Inside Lines: Arrows fly as President Obama wades into Redskins race row

 

The NFL teams who collide at Wembley today must think our form of football is locked in a battle against bigotry with the current flak flying around over alleged racism.

Yet it is a subject equally close to home across the Atlantic in American football, where one of the major preoccupations in Washington seems to be whether the Washington Redskins should be made to change their name to the Washington Native Americans. Protest groups have campaigned for years for the removal of the word Redskins, now considered a racial slur. But the team's owner, Dan Snyder, insists this will never happen. "The fans have no desire whatsoever to see the team name changed solely to succumb to political pressure," he says.

Polls among Native Americans show some ambivalence but there has been a noticeable surge in momentum, with President Obama saying he would change the name of his local team if he owned the Redskins.

The unofficial mascot of the team is actually an African-American, Zema Williams (aka Chief Zee), who has attended games since 1978 dressed in a "Red Indian" costume complete with feathered war bonnet and tomahawk. It is not unusual for other fans to turn up in similar guise.

The NFL's Kansas City Chiefs and baseball's Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves are also under fire for drawing on an Indian theme. Cleveland have been heavily criticised for their logo, one Chief Wahoo, as has the "Tomahawk Chop" hand gesture used by Atlanta Braves supporters.

As Hollywood hasn't dared make a proper cowboys and Indians film for decades because of the offence it might cause among the Native American minority, how long before the arrows fly in the direction of British rugby union's the Exeter Chiefs, whose younger fans adorn themselves in colourful Indian headdresses and whose logo is also an Indian chief? Meantime, the St Louis Cardinals are currently contesting baseball's World Series – presumably with the Pope's blessing.

Tyson to bend our ears

Sir Alex Ferguson is not the only fire-breathing heavyweight to have produced a biting biography. The former world boxing champion Mike Tyson, perhaps only marginally more menacing, reveals in his new book Undisputed Truth that he "wanted to kill" Evander Holyfield during their infamous scuffle in 1997 before settling for chomping on his ear. He says he was furious that Holyfield had head-butted him. "I was an undisciplined soldier. I lost my composure."

Tyson, who admits "I did a lot of bad things and I want to be forgiven", brings his one-man show to Britain next year. Doubtless he'll have the ear of the audience, and fight-fan Sir Alex.

Cooking up a storm

As grudge fights ago, an upcoming score-settling scrap in Manchester looks be a corker. It is one that will be decided not in the ring but on the taekwondo mat, where Aaron Cook, Britain's No 1, faces the man for whom he was jocked off a GB Olympic place. Lutalo Muhammad went on to win bronze but many believe Cook was destined for gold, not least Cook himself.

A bit of a maverick, Cook apparently was dropped because he bucked the system. Subsequently he has defected to the Isle of Man, whom he will represent in the Commonwealth Games. Both have been selected at under 80kg for the grand prix event in December.

Walking the plank

New sports minister Helen Grant has swiftly picked up the cudgel from predecessor Hugh Robertson in her dealings with football's fractious governing bodies. Robertson himself now has the Middle East and piracy in his Foreign Office portfolio. At least he has put in some handy training in his run-ins with the FA and Premier League.

a.hubbard@independent.co.uk

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence