We knew it was only a matter of time until people would speak up and criticize ESPN’s Lee Corso for being insensitive by dressing up as the Florida State Seminoles mascot on College GameDay this past weekend.
Corso got in a full get-up with the spear and all, only to be tackled and trambled by Bill Murray before the spear was thrown into the crowd.
It may not have been intentional, but it was clearly insensitive and disrespectful to the Native American people and the National Congress of American Indians was among those who were not happy.
Evidently, no one at ESPN stopped to think: ”Hey, maybe some folks might consider Corso’s dance inappropriate” especially for a network that has covered the “Redskins” controversy and has a huge stake in the success and reputation of the National Football League (and college football, for that matter). And clearly no one afteward at the network seemed inclined to offer any sort of explanation or rationale for what had just aired.
But the fact is that many people did consider the episode highly offensive. Here is what a spokeswoman for the National Congress of American Indians told me Saturday evening:
“This is a perfect example of how Native Americans are ridiculed in the course of sports entertainment. Good-natured rivalries are one thing. Wearing the native equivalent of black face is quite another. The Eagle Staff carried by Mr. Corso and thrown into the crowd by Mr. Murray is a sacred symbol of leadership and today is used to honor our Native veterans who have served this country. That it was used as a prop in this mockery and shown such disrespect is proof that our heritage and culture are not honored or respected by the slurs and caricatures used by sports teams.”
With media outlets spending so much time on the Washington Redskins name, you would think they’d be more careful about doing something like this on air.
Somewhere along the line an ESPN producer thought this would be a good idea which shows a troubling lack of understanding about the impact this could have.