2K may have sparked more controversy to come

Posted June 13th, 2007 at 1:04 pm

The first questionable decision from 2K Sports that was sure to cause debate was the inclusion of OJ Simpson in the game. That one made for reasonably balanced discussion and both sides had solid arguments.

However the latest thing to come out of All-Pro Football 2K8 really can not be defended. In one of the recent screenshots, a stadium for the team called the Indians was shown. Included in the stadium were tepees on the sidelines and a giant bear wearing face paint. That certainly can be interpreted as being offensive to Native Americans.

Click the thumbnail below to see the full size screen of the stadium. 

APF Indians Stadium

This ties in somewhat with the choice to pay OJ Simpson to be on the legends roster. That was not necessary, as the game would've done just fine without him. However someone decided consciously that, despite the potential for a negative reaction, they should do it anyway.

Here either an individual or a group brainstormed, and ultimately others agreed, to name a team the Indians. Then they decided to add in the unique elements related to the team name such as tepees and a big bear with face paint. This when they easily could've come up with another idea for a name and mascot to use. Yet they chose to go with this, obviously well aware that it had the potential to create a stir.

In real sports leagues, there are Native American related names that have drawn some protest, however there hasn't been strong support behind those movements. This is because those teams have deep and rich histories and generally do a good job helping to promote awareness, have a positive relationship with and contribute to the communities. No comparison can be made from naming a fictional team in 2007 to real teams named so many years ago.

Some examples: Washington Redskins (1932), Kansas City Chiefs (1960), Cleveland Indians (1900), Atlanta/Boston Braves (1871)

There is simply NO chance that an expansion team or one looking to change its name would ever be allowed to take upon one such as the Indians. The time has passed from when it was seen as acceptable, and there is no reason that they couldn't choose an alternative.  

Now, I am not someone who pushes the PC line, actually I'm far from that. However the team name combined with the stadium features goes beyond something that can just be brushed off. With the way the stadiums are shaping up, we aren't even aware yet of what (if any) animatronic elements will be there or or other things such as the stadium's name, music specific to it or crowd chants. It could get even worse as those details and the full experience of the stadium is not known yet. 

One has to wonder after seeing OJ paid to be in the game, and now this move, if 2K isn't seeking out the free publicity that could come from such controversies.

It seems only a matter of time until the demands and protests make their way into the media. And in this case, I think they will be justified in doing so.