Posted on October 18, 2013



Headbanger Ball

Is “Rams” an acceptable team name?


Daniel Clark



Two issues have been roiling the National Football League over the past year.  One of those is the Washington Redskins, whose name some observers, including President Obama, have deemed racially insensitive.  The other is the suspected long-term effects of concussions sustained while playing football.  How is it, then, that nobody is raising any objection to the one NFL team that glorifies the kind of targeted head shots that the league claims it wants to eliminate from the game?

It’s hypocritical for the NFL to wring its hands over brain injuries, while tacitly endorsing the naming of one of its franchises, the St. Louis Rams, after animals that do battle by smashing their heads against each other.  In fact, the word “ram” is also a verb, which is used to describe this very behavior.

In ancient times, a device called a “battering ram” was used by invaders to bash down city walls and castle gates.  It consisted of a long shaft, not unlike a human spine, one end of which was propelled into the object that was meant to be destroyed.  Sometimes, that end would even be designed to look like a real ram’s head.  A Ram football player comes in a similar design, his head “protected” by a blue helmet, with golden horns painted on it, to be propelled toward an opposing player.  Is there any doubt that the players are meant to envision themselves battering down obstacles in the same manner?

Far from deterring brain injuries, the Rams are practically advertising them.  The Ram logo, which itself looks poised to bash skulls with the opposition, is to football safety what Joe Camel is to respiratory health.

With regard to the Redskins nickname, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said, “If we are offending one person, we need to be listening and making sure that we’re doing the right things to try to address that.”  If one offended person is enough, then how about one former player who has suffered irreparable damage?  How about one child who’s butting heads with his friends in the schoolyard, so that he can be just like his favorite player on the St. Louis Rams?  Just how many victims do there need to be?

So that settles it, then.  The NFL must force the Rams to change their team nickname, right?  No, of course not.  That would be a totally ridiculous thing to do.  The Rams’ name isn’t making anyone bang his head against a wall any more than the Miami Dolphins make people shoot water out of their backs.  Nevertheless, if an argument like the one you’ve read here had been made by somebody who seemed sincere, it’s not hard to imagine the team and the league capitulating.

Sadly, that’s become the usual pattern of things, for as long as society has been operating under Goodell’s “one offended person” rule.  One child of atheist parents objects to a prayer being said at a high school graduation, so there can be no prayer.  Never mind what the Constitution actually says about it, there’s one offended person.  A kindergarten class can’t do anything to observe Mother’s Day, because there might be one child who doesn’t have a mother.  One Muslim complains about an ad with a cartoon piggy bank in a store window, and the ad comes down.

It doesn’t matter how compelling you think your case is against the offended.  A factual presentation of the origin of the Redskin nickname, for example, does nothing to sway the likes of liberal NBC sportscaster Bob Costas.  That’s because when liberals talk, their focus is seldom the thing they’re literally talking about.  In reality, everything’s always about themselves.  It’s not that supposedly offensive sports team nicknames really make anybody feel bad, but getting rid of them makes liberals feel good, because they can take credit.  They’re using the “one offended person” rule to construct countless little anti-monuments to themselves.  When something that used to be there has been removed because somebody became offended, that’s just like putting up a giant Hollywood-type sign saying, “Liberals Matter.”

Imagine that this article spawns a movement that ends up pressuring the Rams to change their name, perhaps to the St. Louis Awareness.  The next time one of their players suffers a concussion under one of those helmets, by then adorned with sensitivity ribbons instead of golden horns, he won’t be any less injured. On the other hand, I will have the satisfaction of having, in smug-speak, “made a difference.” And isn’t that what’s really important?


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