Credit to the Kansas City Chiefs for recognizing that some of the franchise's traditions are offensive to Native Americans. Rather than bury their heads in the sand and pretend the issue doesn't exist, as the Redskins have done in Washington, the Chiefs have been proactive in addressing some of the concerns, as the Kansas City Star reports. The newspaper said the Chiefs have recently met with Native American groups in the hope of easing their concerns.
If the nickname and/or game-day traditions offend people, even if that amounts to a small group, an NFL team is obligated to listen and respond. That's the least any franchise can do for its community and the Chiefs, a powerful force in Kansas City since arriving in 1963, are meeting that obligation.
Beyond that, the issue is a little bit sticky for the Chiefs. No one is claiming the team's nickname is offensive as Redskins, a racial slur. Kansas City's NFL team was actually nicknamed in honor of Roe Bartle, the Kansas City mayor who worked to bring the team from Dallas more than 50 years ago. Bartle's nickname was Chief.
But the Chiefs, and their fans, adopted many traditions that could be deemed offensive to Native Americans. Fans at Arrowhead Stadium do the tomahawk chop when the Chiefs score a touchdown. Some wear headdresses to games. A horse named Warpaint rides the field before kickoff. The Chiefs beat a war drum before games.
These rituals are part of the game-day experience now for Chiefs fans. Efforts to ban them from Arrowhead Stadium would undoubtedly be met with great resistance and, probably, eventual failure. So the Chiefs also need to tread lightly or risk stirring some serious anger among their paying customers.
There is enough middle ground here that there can be a compromise which satisfies all parties. That compromise can be reached only by talking and listening.
That's what the Chiefs are doing and, for now, that's the important part.