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"Sticks and Stones and Sports Team Names" by Richard Estrada

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This argument analysis assesses the article “Sticks and Stones and Sports Team Names” by Richard Estrada. The work is about the author’s take on provocative ethnic names in sports teams and team mascots. In general, the article talks about the prevalence of Native American terms in sports and how they have entailed various reactions among Americans. The debatable article challenges the audacity of sports teams to abuse ethnic names, more so those of Native Americans, in team mascots, without their consent. It seems that they isolated the Native Americans and made them victims of injustice, perhaps due to their small numbers. The practice is impertinent to say the least. Estrada mentions the dominance of Native American terms in sports and reveals the impact of these actions. This analysis identifies Estrada’s claims, the rationale used to support his claims, and the key assumptions. Finally, the argument’s type and form are evaluated.

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Richard Estrada’s article tackles the subject of professional sports teams with potentially provocative names like the Washington Redskins and the Atlanta Braves. These teams have been requested to change their names because their mascots are considered offensive to Native Americans. In the fourth paragraph of the first page, Estrada argues that, although the names may not have been originally intended to disgrace Native American culture, using the parts of culture of a native ethnicity as a ‘mascot’ is ultimately inappropriate.

In the last paragraph of the first page, Estrada explains with great sadness that these names of popular teams do have an emotional toll on Native American children. They come out as stereotypes of their culture, and the Native American children can have difficulties growing up in a society that somewhat ‘mocks’ them. A Native Americans’ culture should never serve as a white person’s mascot without their consent. “That father should be pardoned for not wanting his family to serve as somebody’s mascot,” Estrada notes in his poignant anecdote.

From the above work, it can be noted that Estrada was indeed factual in declaring that use of ethnic names in team mascots is improper to the point of demeaning the Native Americans. To us it might seem to be normal or even ideal, but to the Native Americans this comes out as a form of ridicule toward their ethnicity. The author’s ethos argument of man’s costs of prejudice suggested that it was not just an issue of political correctness, but also a negative influence on children’s social behavior. He gives an example of a Native American father whose child was compelled to participate in sports team celebrations that mocked his/her culture. The child, according to Estrada, was subjected to mockery because of his/her ethnicity.
Type and form of the analyzed argument is moral argument.

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An argument is a cluster of statements consisting of premises and a conclusion. A good argument will have the inference following from the premises while the premises themselves are true. There are two elementary types of arguments: deductive arguments and inductive ones. Deductive arguments pose a logically conclusive support, which is considered valid. They are considered sound if they also have true premises. On the other hand, inductive arguments are meant to provide feasible support for the conclusion, which would be considered a strong argument. They are considered cogent if they also have true premises (Hawthorne, 2004).

Richard Estrada’s argument falls under the modus ponens valid argument. In modus ponens, when the conditional statement is true, and the antecedent remains true then the consequent can be inferred. Estrada argues that the seclusion of one ethnic group, mainly due to its small number, and inaccurately depicting its culture in sports names and team mascots is disparaging. He then mentions how the Native Americans have been wrongly depicted and how most of them find it offensive. Alternatively, if there was no seclusion of a specific ethnic group, then the Native Americans would not be offended by the use of ethnic names since it would be common to see sports teams going under Hispanic names, Blacks names, and others.

Richard Estrada’s argument can also be categorized as a moral argument and an inductive argument. He asserts that the team names have been considered offensive to the Native Americans. After all, being singled-out as an ethnic group and then witnessing how people misleadingly use their ethnic names and culture in team sports can be considered offensive by the majority of the ethnic group members. The author also provides feasible support for the conclusion, making it a strong argument. In his conclusion, he says that when the tables are turned and other ethnic groups, such as the Latinos, Jews, or Blacks, are singled out and given the same treatment as the Native Americans, they would also find it offensive. He concludes by saying that Native Americans want dignified and fair treatment rather than ignoring their complaints due to their numerically small population.

Implicit premises are frequently moral ones, which could be contentious or dubious. They, however, can be tested using counterexamples. Inductive arguments also depend on the likelihood of the conclusion being true based on the premises. The fact that Native Americans are few makes assuming their complaints more discriminatory than if their numbers were as large as the rest of the ethnic groups. The argument, therefore, is a matter of degree. The inductive strength in the argument increases with an increase in the numbers of the offended. If more and more people are offended with the naming of team mascots and team names after Native American names, then the issue will be of huge significance and Estrada’s argument will be strong and cogent.

Evaluation of the Argument

Estrada fulfills pathos by demonstrating how the change towards such names has an effect of slowly changing attitudes within the society. The use of ethnic names would also be not accepted regardless of the ethnic group being used. I believe that there is no logical reason for retaining the names.

Despite Estrada’s tendency to generalize the case based upon anecdotal cases, he attempts to give a solid argument that touches upon the components of a logically and rhetorically sound argument. The author does well by using ethos to paint a compelling and moving picture of man’s costs of prejudice. He suggests that it is not just an issue of political correctness but it has a material effect on children’s social behavior and with this he fulfills ethos. However, Estrada leaves out surveys and interviews that would otherwise have revealed the magnitude of discontent amongst the Native Americans concerning the use of ethnic names on team mascots, showing logos.

From an ethical standpoint, Estrada deems it unacceptable to nickname a team after an ethnic group protected by the United States. If calling a sports team an offensive name given to African-Americans, Latinos, or Italian-Americans would be regarded as unacceptable, why then should it be regarded acceptable for white culture to objectify Native Americans? Allowing the names to linger indicates that conventional American culture fails to view Native Americans as respected and equal citizens compared with other ethnic groups that have made significant parts of the American culture. This goes against the values symbolized by the civil rights legislation passed in the 1960s. The author considers the use of such names as offensive and unfair and calls for dignified treatment for these ethnic groups.

Estrada goes on to make a hasty generalization that the team names are not appropriate, or that the use of ethnic team mascots is, in any way, offensive. In today’s society, some teams do use human mascots other than Native Americans. The Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish, the University of Pennsylvania’s Quakers, and the Greek Spartans are some of the teams as mentioned earlier. They have stimulated little controversy, and, in some instances, they regard these names as complimentary.

A second hasty generalization within Estrada’s analysis is his argument that entire group of Native Americans is offended. Perhaps one Native American father and his child are offended by the portrayal. Does this necessarily imply that everyone else is? It could be that person is offended by almost anything. Estrada falls to the bandwagon fallacy. He reasons that because four major organizations have taken the bold step to drop their Indian names, therefore all other organizations should follow them.

Estrada’s argument needs more evidence to support the idea that Native Americans are offended by how the society uses their ethnic names in team sports and mascots. He says that while a majority of the Native Americans finds it offensive, some do not mind the names and actually consider it a way of honoring their culture and qualities such as bravery, swiftness, among others. There needs to be an in-depth research to determine an estimate of those offended by the stereotypical name branding and those who find it honorable.

In conclusion, Richard Estrada’s article, ‘Sticks and Stones and Sports Team Names’ is an inductive argument and a modus ponens valid argument. The author states that when one condition exists, then a certain outcome will be in effect. He then mentions that the outcome, where, in this case, is the belittling of the Native American culture, is a result of seclusion.

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