Thursday, February 02, 2006

A very bad year

Forget the Indians and Braves. Nevermind the Chiefs and Redskins. Now, there is a whole new sports nickname to be offended by. Something so vile, so disgusting, it will leave the taste of moldy enchiladas in your mouth for days.
Enter the evil lair of the Houston 1836, the newest Major League Soccer team, relocated from San Jose.
I'm offended by it, but for reasons entirely different than the Hispanic community of southeastern Texas. So let me get my beef out of the way.
History tells us that when naming a sports team after a year, you must always follow it with the suffix "-ers." That turns into an active noun denoting people doing something associated with that year. The 49ers means 1849 gold prospectors in northern California. The 76ers means the founders of America.
The 1836 sounds like a self-important street address, kind of like "The Donald." It sounds like an adjective with no noun to modify.
I realize soccer nicknames aren't like nicknames in other sports. Americans want ferocious animals and monochromatic stockings in their sports monikers. Soccer offers F.C. this and United that, so we'll never see eye to eye with Europe on that front. But, still, when I see "The 1836," I want to say "The 1836 what?"
OK, enough of my issues. Let's get to the real party. You see, across most of the country, 1836 was a year with a lot of farming, hunting, cholera and other things associated with a growing nation in 19th Century. But in Texas, it was a year of bloodshed.
Texas broke away from Mexico that year, igniting a war that cost Texas Davey Crockett and The Alamo. Many white settlers died in that war, and many more Mexicans, which is why they now curse us with Taco Bell.
Apparently, members of the Hispanic community believe that, by naming a Houston sports team "The 1836," the team owners are celebrating a war that cost uncounted Mexican lives and fractured Mexico. Sort of like Jewish people being upset over a Berlin soccer team being dubbed "The 1939."
A Houston Spanish newspaper flippantly asked if the next step was to be a soccer team called the "New Orleans Hurricanes."
Oliver Luck, a former Houston Oilers quarterback who is the 1836's general manager, said the team name was aimed at embracing Texas history. Raul Ramos, a University of Houston professor, wrote an op-ed piece in The Houston Chronicle stating that the team apparently wants Hispanic fans, but "on (the teams) own terms."
Several readers lashed back at Ramos with letters to the editor, prompting this response on

"The team's name is something of a litmus test," said Ramos wanly. "If you disagree with this singular opinion of Texas Independence, then you're not a good American. But in a multicultural America, Americans can hold differing views of the same event. I spoke up because these should be questions not just for Latinos, but for all Americans, about how could we be more inclusive."

Is it another case of dense white folks being insensitive to the concerns of other ethnic groups, or are we being forced to walk on PC eggshells again? Or should the 1836's owners just split the difference and name the team the Houston 1800-somethings?


Anonymous said...

I don't think it's true that "many more Mexicans" died during the Texas Revolution. At most, casualties were probably fairly similar.

Concerning the quip about the hurricanes -- it seems that the team was previously known as the San Jose Earthquakes. If people in the bay area can get over earthquakes that killed a bunch of people 20 years ago, I would think people could get over a war that happened nearly a hundred years ago. Also, Houston used to have an NASL team called the Hurricane. I don't remember any protests about that from Galvestonians.

Anonymous said...

Of course, I meant "nearly TWO hundred years ago." Guess I diluted the point I was trying to make. Sigh.