Football and North American Traditions

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A suggestion for the owners of Washington DC’s team in the National Football League – look to your northern neighbours for inspiration.

We have many similar traditions to you, after all. While we have better rules for football, they make a miniscule difference compared to how much the rest of the world gets “football” wrong. We also have the same history of colonization and cultural genocide, adopting the images we like about our land’s indigenous peoples while not actually including or giving the slightest shit about them.

We also have a history in our Canadian Football League of stealing names – see Saskatchewan Roughriders vs. Ottawa Rough Riders. The latter preceded the former in adopting this virtually identical name by about 25 years. The Saskatchewan Roughriders, however, with their inbred banjos and literal melons on their heads, outlasted Ottawa’s team, who folded in 1996. This season Ottawa is returning with a new team (their second attempt at getting back into the league) and calling themselves the team colours of their Rough Riders of era past – The Ottawa Red Blacks.

This name comes from the jersey colours most of their teams have adopted in the history of formal Canadian sports. But it can also be appropriated by Washington in a cleverly meaningful way. It keeps the same three letters. They won’t even need to change their colours, necessarily. It represents a lot of what Washington, as a symbol for America has a whole, is built upon – oppression and appropriation. “Red” can still be unspokenly racist against native peoples, and “Blacks” is appalling part of white systemic oppression that is reflected far more in US history than in Canada’s.

And since Canada is humble and will take any compliment we can get, we might even be flattered instead of outraged that our bully of a neighbour is stealing from us yet again. It’s an all-around good representation of the United States of America, and Washington is at the heart of it all.

But you might want to take a hint from Saskatchewan (in this rare occasion when that is ever a good idea) and combine it into one word. “Washington Redblacks” has quite the ring to it.

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