I think it is a good thing that the general public has been sensitized to look upon the mascots they choose to represent their sports teams. In case you have forgotten, the town of Skowhegan in the last few months was at the center of a controversy when it decided to ban the use of the word Indians for its teams.

Bob Kalish observes life from a placid place on the island of Arrowsic (motto: You’re not in Georgetown yet). You can reach him at [email protected]

Indians is a popular name for teams as part of a general educational program, even if there wasn’t a Native American within 100 miles of the stadium scoreboard. In professional baseball alone there are the Cleveland Indians, the Atlanta Braves and the Kansas City Chiefs, not to mention the college teams.

What would it take to get to a level of sensitivity where we wouldn’t stand for our school’s Fighting Redskins any more than we would accept a team called the Maine Jews or the Minnesota Swedes. The list of names of flowers and plants provides plenty of possibilities. And as an extra benefit, the level of violence in our society alone may begin to diminish. It’s just plain difficult to muster up hate when the object of that hate is a rhododendron.

Here is a suggestion for professional team owners, coaches, parents and spectators: When looking for a new mascot for your team, think flowers. Or plants (the Fighting Amaryllis) or cuddly animals (the Fighting Teddy Bears).

You like the sound of the Fighting Fiddleheads of Wiscasset? Or the Mt. Ararat Magnolias?

We could still enjoy our team mascots and cheerleaders, whose job it is to distract us so we don’t get bored. Instead of a man or woman stalking around dressed as a bear or an Indian chief, we could watch a small person dressed as a sunflower, armed with a fly swatter and a spray bottle of olive oil. One thing about having animated flowers or plants or cuddly animals is you have to be careful in dressing them safely, since most don’t have any places for arms and legs.

One more advantage to adopting more peaceful attitudes among competitors is that decades-old grudges and feuds are hard to maintain when the object of your rage is the team known as the Fighting Fiddleheads of Lincoln County, or the Brunswick Begonias, or the Newcastle Nasturtiums.

Flowers have a calming effect on people. Back in 1967, young people were asked to wear flowers in their hair when visiting San Francisco for what was labeled the Summer of Love. That was flowers, not guns or blackjacks or any other kind of weapon.

If we adopt this idea, anger and violence may be reduced, because who wants to hit someone dressed like a begonia?

And then there’s the ritual holiday sporting events that mark some special day. For example, someday might we not be treated to our classic Thanksgiving turkey while on the television is the special holiday football game pitting the Lupins of Lincoln Academy against the Delphiniums of Morse. Who knows?

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