November 29, 2020

‘More Than a Word’ film screening tackles team mascot controversy

Webster University’s Sports Media and Analytics club addressed the controversy of offensive sports team names and symbols through the documentary film “More Than a Word” on Oct. 11. The film explores the conflict surrounding many sports teams mascots and the symbols that are related to them. It specifically analyzes the use of Native American slurs in the sporting industry.

The club’s president, Alexis LaMarsh, and faculty advisor, Allison Levin said they believed the film portrayed an important topic. Alexis LaMarsh, the president of the Sports Media and Analytics club, spoke at the end of the showing and said the issue affects the public.

“We believe we are doing a great disservice to everyone, to sports fans and the general public, if as a sports club we don’t address the cultural issues going on in sports,” LaMarsh said. 

Shown in the Sunnen Lounge, the film discussed sports team mascots like the Washington Redskins. “Redskin” is a Native American racial slur, and the film dives into the offensive nature of the name and how it affects the sporting industry.

The film also discussed where these symbols originated and why they could be offensive to Native Americans and their current culture. This film ties the use of the possibly offensive language to current issues regarding Native American rights and history.

Levin had previously seen the film, and the producers reached out to her to ask if she would like to have a showing on campus.

“I thought it was an issue we don’t talk enough about, and so I really thought it would be important for people to hear and be educated about indigenous people and the use of these mascots that we don’t think about,” Levin said.

This film called attention to how these slurs can affect those outside of the Native American community as well. These ideas and issues were touched on during the panel.

“So often we focus on what’s happening on the field or what’s happening with fans and we don’t address the bigger societal issues that should be addressed,” said LaMarsh.

The film placed and the Sports Media and Analytics club placed an importance on educating people about this topic.

“We should be thinking about the teams we root for and the sports that we watch,” Levin said. “I think education is a large part in what we can do, speaking out when we see things that are wrong, what most activists believe you should do.”

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