This week we were joined by Emily Giambalvo from The Washington Post who covers the University of Maryland athletics news. We were also joined by author and professor Andrew Billings who co-wrote Mascot Nation: The Controversy Over Native American Representations in Sports.
Emily Giambalvo joined us this week to discuss the reinstatement and subsequent firing of Coach DJ Durkin for the University of Maryland’s football team. Durkin was originally taken out of power due to allegations of inappropriate behavior including a toxic culture of intimidation and humiliation against players. Once Durkin was reinstated on Wednesday, there was a major outcry from the players and the community. Giambalvo states that players using their voices to protest against policies and those in power, “is not something that we usually see in college sports.”
Giambalvo states that on a college football team, “the head coach holds a lot of power,” and believes that now that Durkin has been removed there will be major changes for the team. She states that much of the pressure and criticisms against DJ Durkin stem from his inability to control the strength and conditioning coach, Rick Court. Those on the athletic board claimed that DJ Durkin was a good man and simply did not receive the correct training, which Giambalvo claims “may have swayed their decision heavily”.
We were also joined by author and professor Andrew Billings who spoke about the use of Native American culture in sport team’s mascots. Billings claims that the controversy over Native American mascot use is based on various questions, asking “is it the name, is it the image or logo, or is it the rituals that go along with it?” Billings also discusses the backlash against those that are told they “have” to change their actions. He explains that when people are asked, “Should someone do something?” the answer is most usually yes, but when the question is phrased as, “Should someone have to do something?” the answer is most usually no.
Andrew Billing’s claims that many that oppose the changing of these team’s names do so on the basis of the worry that the fandom of the teams may change. Billings explains to us that it is possible for many teams to drop the most offensive aspects of their teams, including name, mascots, or rituals, and still maintain their history and pride while remaining inoffensive. The public has begun to take part in a practice called “de-mascoting” that removes the offensive aspect from team regalia while maintaining a person’s ability to show team pride.
Listen to the entire episode below. Don’t be shy! Send us your questions and/or comments!