Here are the Places Where America's Ugly Racist Past Still Live & Breathe in the Sports World

Here are the Places Where America's Ugly Racist Past Still Live & Breathe in the Sports World

Illustration for article titled Here are the Places Where Americas Ugly Racist Past Still Live  Breathe in the Sports World
Photo: Getty

Change isn’t just coming, it’s here. NASCAR will no longer allow displays of the Confederate flag. The NFL is proclaiming that Black Lives Matter. U.S. Soccer repealed its anthem policy.

But in many places in the sports world, racism is alive and well, and starring everyone right in the face. In some cases, it’s obvious. In others, it’s so ingrained that hardly anyone gives it a second thought or bothers to question it. Eradicating the scourge from the sports landscape will require more than the right words, but actions to end some long-standing cases of naming conventions and hero worship.

From statues of avowed racists to insensitive team names to even the names of universities and the cities they’re in, there are tributes to racists all throughout sports. Here are some examples:

Sorry to all the other Jesse Spectors for ruining your Google results.

Advertisement

2 / 17

Atlanta (MLB)

Atlanta (MLB)

Illustration for article titled Here are the Places Where Americas Ugly Racist Past Still Live  Breathe in the Sports World
Photo: Getty

Atlanta (MLB)

Racist team nickname, and they keep doing the Tomahawk Chop, even after acknowledging it was wrong by not distributing foam tomahawks, as done in years’ past, and limiting its use during the 2019 playoffs because of Cardinals reliever Ryan Helsley’s objections. Also, they’ve got a statue of Warren Spahn, who upon reading of the Montgomery Bus Boycott asked Hank Aaron, “Henry, just what is it you people want?”

Advertisement

3 / 17

Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears

Illustration for article titled Here are the Places Where Americas Ugly Racist Past Still Live  Breathe in the Sports World
Photo: Getty

Chicago Bears

There’s a statue of “Papa Bear” George Halas outside Soldier Field, and the team’s headquarters in Lake Forest is called Halas Hall. Well, as one of the pioneers of the NFL, Halas was part of institutionalizing racism in pro football. After Black star Fritz Pollard and the 1920 Akron Pros beat Halas and the Decatur Staleys (the forerunners of the Bears), Halas “said he’d never play a team with the N-word on it again,” Pollard’s grandson said. Halas’ Bears were the first NFL team to draft a Black player, George Taliaferro in the 13th round in 1949, but he decided to join the Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Football Conference instead. Was that just happenstance? Halas didn’t exactly stand in the way of the NFL’s segregation policy for more than a decade. The Bears did not integrate until 1952.

Advertisement

4 / 17

Chicago (NHL)

Chicago (NHL)

Illustration for article titled Here are the Places Where Americas Ugly Racist Past Still Live  Breathe in the Sports World
Photo: Getty

Chicago (NHL)

In addition to the team name and logo, there’s a statue outside of their arena of Bobby “Hitler Had Some Good Ideas” Hull.

Advertisement

5 / 17

Cleveland (MLB)

Cleveland (MLB)

Illustration for article titled Here are the Places Where Americas Ugly Racist Past Still Live  Breathe in the Sports World
Photo: Getty

Cleveland (MLB)

Took Chief Wahoo off their uniforms, but kept the team name.

Advertisement

6 / 17

Clemson University

Clemson University

Illustration for article titled Here are the Places Where Americas Ugly Racist Past Still Live  Breathe in the Sports World
Photo: Getty

Clemson University

Named for its founder, Thomas Clemson, who was a lieutenant in the Confederate Army, and the son-in-law of staunch slavery defender John C. Calhoun. The school’s honors college was named after Calhoun until 20,000 people signed a petition, including former Clemson stars Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, calling for a name change, which the Board of Governors approved.

Advertisement

7 / 17

Florida State

Florida State

Illustration for article titled Here are the Places Where Americas Ugly Racist Past Still Live  Breathe in the Sports World
Photo: Getty

Florida State

Not just the Tomahawk Chop or the nickname and logo, which have been the subject of an agreement between the school and the Seminole Nation, but the football stadium is named for Doak Campbell, the university president who tried to prevent the student newspaper from publishing editorials in favor of desegregation.

Advertisement

8 / 17

Kansas City (NFL)

Kansas City (NFL)

Illustration for article titled Here are the Places Where Americas Ugly Racist Past Still Live  Breathe in the Sports World
Photo: Getty

Kansas City (NFL)

Play at Arrowhead Stadium, fans do the Tomahawk Chop.

Advertisement

9 / 17

Kentucky Wildcats

Kentucky Wildcats

Illustration for article titled Here are the Places Where Americas Ugly Racist Past Still Live  Breathe in the Sports World

Kentucky Wildcats

The school’s basketball arena is named for Adolph Rupp, the famous racist who got some comeuppance when his all-white Wildcats team lost the 1966 national title game to all-Black Texas Western.

Advertisement

10 / 17

New York Yankees

New York Yankees

Illustration for article titled Here are the Places Where Americas Ugly Racist Past Still Live  Breathe in the Sports World
Photo: AP

New York Yankees

The Macombs Dam Bridge that fans walk and drive over to get to Yankee Stadium, as well as Macombs Dam Park, built on the site of the House That Ruth Built, across the street from where the Bronx Bombers now play, is named for the slaveholding Macomb family, one of many things in New York with a name tied to an shameful past. It’s not the Yankees’ responsibility, per se, but if the Bombers pushed to get the name changed (think of the David Ortiz Bridge in Boston), they’d get it done.

Advertisement

11 / 17

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Illustration for article titled Here are the Places Where Americas Ugly Racist Past Still Live  Breathe in the Sports World
Photo: Getty

Notre Dame

The football stadium features a statue of Lou Holtz, who endorsed Donald Trump because the coach liked his golf courses, which, sure, okay, whatever. And he also just happened to really like Jesse Helms “as a person,” which is why Holtz endorsed the bigoted North Carolina senator.

Advertisement

12 / 17

Ole Miss

Ole Miss

Illustration for article titled Here are the Places Where Americas Ugly Racist Past Still Live  Breathe in the Sports World
Image: Getty

Ole Miss

Got rid of the Colonel Reb mascot in 2011, but the “Rebels” nickname remains, a nod to the Confederacy, which very much remains an issue on campus.

But it’s not just a mascot or a team name. Using “Ole Miss” as a nickname for the University of Mississippi has racist roots: the term was used by slaves to refer to the wife of a plantation owner — and the school decided in 2014 to stick with it for sports, over the objection of some faculty members.

Advertisement

13 / 17

St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals

Illustration for article titled Here are the Places Where Americas Ugly Racist Past Still Live  Breathe in the Sports World
Photo: Getty

St. Louis Cardinals

Outside of Busch Stadium is a statue of Rogers Hornsby, certainly one of the all-time greats of the game, but also reportedly a member of the Ku Klux Klan. There’s also an Enos Slaughter statue, though Slaughter did learn his lesson as far as how he treated Jackie Robinson.

Advertisement

14 / 17

Stephen F. Austin University

Stephen F. Austin University

Illustration for article titled Here are the Places Where Americas Ugly Racist Past Still Live  Breathe in the Sports World

Stephen F. Austin University

(and Austin, Texas, state capital and home of the University of Texas)

Named for “the Father of Texas,” who was not in the Confederacy because he died in 1836, but advocated for slavery in Texas.

Advertisement

15 / 17

Tennessee Volunteers

Tennessee Volunteers

Illustration for article titled Here are the Places Where Americas Ugly Racist Past Still Live  Breathe in the Sports World
Image: Getty

Tennessee Volunteers

Not only is Neyland Stadium named for Robert Neyland, there’s a statue of him outside. But Neyland stood against desegregation, and refused to have his Volunteers play against teams with Black players.

Advertisement

16 / 17

Washington (NFL)

Washington (NFL)

Illustration for article titled Here are the Places Where Americas Ugly Racist Past Still Live  Breathe in the Sports World
Photo: Getty

Washington (NFL)

C’mon.

Advertisement

17 / 17

Sorry to all the other Jesse Spectors for ruining your Google results.