More Ugly Mascots
Sports teams’ nicknames and iconography reinforce derogatory stereotypes.

Pittsburgh Pirates mascot


Andrew Johnson

Hillbillies: If “Redskins” is a no-go, then a nickname that amounts to “Rednecks” should be off the table too. A handful of high schools, not only in Arkansas and West Virginia but even in New Jersey and New York, clearly play to the connotation of people of Appalachian heritage as unrefined and unsophisticated.

Ozark High School, Ozark, Ark.

Fredonia High School, Fredonia, N.Y.

Appleknockers: Anti-rustic animus (one dictionary defines “appleknocker” as “an ignorant or unsophisticated person”) rears its ugly head yet again. A high school in Cobden, Ill., goes by the “Appleknockers” and features a young chap with a straw hat and overalls chewing a piece of straw.


Italian Americans: The Eastern Junior Hockey League’s New Jersey team perpetuates the stereotype of Italian Americans as mobsters, from the striped suit to the stubble to the square-jawed scowl.

Cajuns: The University of Louisiana–Lafayette’s Ragin’ Cajuns cast a barbarous light on the Cajun people. The name paints Cajuns as being in a constant mode of raucous Mardi Gras revelry. While the school has changed its mascot to, of all things, an anthropomorphized Cayenne pepper (for what it’s worth, Delta State (Miss.) has an okra mascot), the image of its former mascot, Mr. Ragin’ Cajun, lives on: