Exeter Chiefs to retire Big Chief mascot after review
A club review found that the mascot could be deemed disrespectful
Rugby union club Exeter Chiefs have announced that they will retire their mascot, Big Chief, after a review process which involved sponsors, key partners and supporters.
The review process, which also included certain sections of the Native American community, who supplied information and their views to the club for referral.
The decision comes at a time when conversations about the use of potentially offensive names by sports teams has intensified. American football team, the Washington Redskins, responded to pressure from fans and particularly sponsors this month and changed their name to Washington Football Team.
For years, the NFL side had been inundated with demands to change their name and their logo, which depicted a Native American man. The term 'Redskin' is a pejorative term for a Native American person.
As part of their review process, Exeter decided that they would not be changing their logo, which depicts a Native American chief, or their name, having come to the conclusion that "the use of the Chiefs logo was in fact highly respectful".
Their reasoning behind this decision was that "the name Chiefs dated back into the early 1900s and had a long history with people in the Devon area".
Read the Exeter Chiefs' statement in full below:
The Exeter Rugby Club board today underwent a detailed review of the club’s branding following issues raised by the group Exeter Chiefs 4 Change.
The process has included looking into lengthy submissions from those who wish to see immediate change and from those who are content that the current branding is not disrespectful to indigenous groups.
A detailed dossier of all evidence was compiled ahead of today’s meeting and was seen by all members of the board and reviewed.
Part of the club’s review has seen the club engage with its sponsors and key partners to seek their views – and they have also listened to the response of our supporters, the wider rugby community and certain sections from the Native American community, all of whom have provided us with detailed observations in letters, emails, social content and videos.
Content provided to the board indicated that the name Chiefs dated back into the early 1900s and had a long history with people in the Devon area.
The board took the view that the use of the Chiefs logo was in fact highly respectful. It was noted over the years we have had players and coaches from around the world with a wide range of nationalities and cultures. At no time have any players, coaches or their families said anything but positive comments about the branding or culture that exists at the club.
The one aspect which the board felt could be regarded as disrespectful was the club’s mascot ‘Big Chief’ and as a mark of respect have decided to retire him.
The club will be making no further comment on the matter.