The NFL’s Washington Football Team has been mulling a new nickname since July of 2020, but another pro football team has moved the ball faster down the field when it comes to dropping an insensitive moniker.
Starting this season, Edmonton’s Canadian Football League team will be called the Elks. Since 1949 the franchise was known as the Eskimos, but over the past few years, the team has dealt with public outcry from Inuit groups and leaders who said the name is racist. Sponsors even threatened to leave if the team didn’t make the change.
It came to a head last year around the same time Washington announced it would drop the name Redskins after years of pressure. While the nation’s capital team is still considering its options – including reportedly keeping the generic Washington Football Team label – team officials in Edmonton said it had a wealth of names that were being considered including the Evergreens, Elements, Eclipse, Evergolds, Eagles, and Elkhounds.
The Elks made the announcement on Tuesday through a hype video posted on Twitter.
“We are 14 Grey Cups strong. With a hunger for more. The team you know and love — new name, same game. Proud as ever. Bolder than ever. As fierce as they come,” the franchise said in the video.
The CFL had canceled its 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the newly named Elks will join the eight other franchises in returning later this summer. “Our revised target date to start our regular season is August 5,” CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie announced in April, “I say ‘target date’ because our plans are subject to the state of COVID-19 across the country. A so-called ‘third wave’ in some provinces is forcing us today to postpone the start of our regular season, which had been scheduled for June 10.”
The league’s return to action will be predicated on the approval of public health officials across Canada and governmental permission to allow “a significant number of fans” into the stadiums.
Canada’s professional sports teams are facing challenges due to COVID-19 travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada. Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays are now playing home games in Buffalo after spending the early part of the season in Florida – which is where the Toronto Raptors of the NBA spent its entire 2020-2021 season.
Even Canada’s national sport, hockey, was forced to adapt. All seven of the NHL’s Canadian teams were only allowed to play exclusively against each other to avoid cross-border travel this season. Now with the Stanley Cup Playoffs underway, the CBC reports that Canada and the NHL are working on a travel exemption that would let the winner of the NHL’s all-Canadian division and whatever team emerges from the U.S. brackets to cross the border during the third and final rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs.