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CFL

Apparently It’s Just That Easy To Change A Team Name

Edmonton Elks

The Edmonton CFL team will never again be known as the EFT, EEFT, THOSE GUYS, or by any other acronym. It simply changed its nickname of “Eskimos,” which is considered a derogatory term for members of the Inuit and Yupik peoples, to “Elks.” Little fuss, little muss—there wasn’t even much of a debate about the plural conundrum.

And while your interest in this topic began at zero percent and has waned since, it should be noted that it has taken years for the Washington NFL franchise and the Cleveland MLB franchise just to acknowledge the offensiveness of their nicknames, let alone replace them with something that isn’t just a bunch of letters slapped together so as to make the transition as long and as stupid as possible.

In Edmonton, though, once the decision was made that the old name was a problem the entire thing took less than a year to address and solve, in fact, showing if nothing else that problem-solving is easy if you actually want to solve the problem. Even though the team could point to the fact that their logo had no offensive native imagery, just two stacked letter “E”s, it took the complaints to quicker heart than its neighbors to the south, took the shorthand version of the old nickname, Esks, exchanged one consonant and voila, problem solved.

Edmonton has been one of the most historically successful of the CFL franchises, so there was only a small level of resistance from traditionalists (read: fans who are confused by change) who saw nothing wrong in a slur because their particular nickname of choice predated the perception of the slur. The nickname was scrapped without much noise last July and the team was called the Edmonton Football Team (or EE Football Team, if you also want pedantry on your list of social shortcomings) as a placeholder. By February the franchise had trademarked and narrowed down a list of nine potential finalists, all maintaining the initials so that fans could keep their monogrammed underwear. Those options included Elk, Elks, Elkhounds, Evergreens, Evergolds, Eagles, Elements, Eclipse, and Energy. In other words, something with antlers was a betting favorite.

There doesn’t seem to be much of an issue even over the choice of the “s” in Elks, despite the fact that the approved plurals of elk are either elk or elks. Nobody seemed to want to get bogged down in that one because, well, people have stuff to do, and time is short for us all. One can only hope that the choice of Elks-with-an-S was made swiftly to avoid the obnoxious singular team nickname which has caused our own country to become essentially ungovernable.

But that’s neither here, there, nor anywhere else. The point is, it took less than a year to do what we cannot do in decades because ultimately, Canadians seemed to understand at least in this one instance that people who buy team apparel tend to be completists by nature and don’t want to get caught wearing the old schmatta when there is new schmatta upon which to bestow one’s paychecks. So they did the thing, and the province of Alberta is no worse off and probably incrementally better for it.

There’s a lesson in this for all of us, but since we seem to have no plans to learn it any time soon, we’ll just let it go. We live to argue, pure and simple, and that’s just who we are. So go team, whatever the hell that means to you and your closet.