Former CFL players weigh in on Eskimos name change, taking a knee
Published Sunday, November 26, 2017 7:00AM EST
OTTAWA – It's Grey Cup Sunday in Ottawa and CTV’s Question Period convened a panel of former CFL players to talk about the intersection of politics and sport.
Jock Climie, Milt Stegall, and Eric Macramalla weigh in on whether athletes should use their platforms to speak out on social issues.
From the calls to rename the Edmonton Eskimos, to taking a knee during the national anthem, here’s what the trio had to say.
On whether it’s time, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said, to have a discussion about changing the name of the Edmonton Eskimos:
Milt Stegall: "I think it’s something that has to be looked into… think the main thing that needs to happen, both sides need to come together and some discussions need to be had to figure out what’s best for everyone involved."
Jock Climie: "You’re the owner of the Washington Redskins, you’re not worried about revenues, the guy’s got tons of money, but for him I think it’s probably tradition… you start having to forcibly remove names because you have been declared politically incorrect, we know what’s happening down there right now."
Eric Macramalla: "When you name a team after a race or a group of people, it’s dehumanizing, because what it does is it paints them as these mythological creatures that are savages, right? Because sports names are designed to evoke what? Aggression… The name is out of step, it has to change… The meaning of words change over time."
Should athletes use their position, their platform, to make political statements? Now we have a group of athletes entering the political ring, what’s your take?
Milt Stegall: "I love it. They’re using their platform in a positive way. And let’s be honest now, the athletes that are doing this are African Americans… So a guy like Colin Kaepernick, the guy who actually started the protest of kneeling down during the national anthem, he’s having a voice for those who don’t have a voice."
Jock Climie: "I am a 'stay in your lane' type of guy. To me, you’re paid to play football, then play football."
Eric Macramalla: "Colin Kaepernick used his employer’s business as his platform for protest. That to me was clumsy, it was unsophisticated, and that’s why he’s not working today. But that being said, everyone has a right to express themselves. Countries, governments have used athletes as political pawns."
Governments always use sports for patriotism. It is a vessel for values. Why can the politicians and the owners use it, and not the players? And why don’t we see protests like those in the U.S., in Canada?
Milt Stegall: "The thing about protesting, and we’re talking about peaceful protesting, someone’s going to be uncomfortable… If you’re protesting and someone’s not uncomfortable, you’re not getting your point across."
Jock Climie: "We’re too polite. Canadians are too polite for this. I really believe that… I don’t see a Canadian ever kneeling during the national anthem."
Eric Macramalla: "Celebrities and athletes generally get attention when they talk, so it matters."