Is It Time To Retire The Ram?

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David Rush, Staff Writer

On July 12, 2021, team president Jason Wright announced that the Washington Redskins would change their name, ending a decades-long campaign to remove the derogatory title. This comes as part of a wave of sports teams removing derogatory, demeaning, or insulting names and mascots. While some fans were left angered at the removal of the various names, citing tradition as a reason to maintain the monikers, for most the names were simply too outdated and offensive to continue to use. 

Historically, RSU21 uses a ram as the mascot for its sports teams. At Kennebunk High School, jerseys and logos all depict a ram’s head, and a statue of a ram stands in the lobby. Definitionally, a ram is a male sheep. This creates an issue: How are our female sports teams to be represented? According to the Baltimore Sun, over a third of 4-year colleges and universities use sexist names for their women’s athletic teams, including using the prefix “Lady.” Currently, Kennebunk’s female sports teams are referred to as the “Lady Rams.”  This juxtaposition is both sexist and it is demeaning.  The term lady introduces a sense of properness that is entirely un-athletic, and essentially calling the teams female males is absurd. As well, “Lady” is often used in a condescending manner towards women. But simply calling our female teams “The Rams” devalues Kennebunk’s female participation in sports, contributing to the idea that female sports players are secondary to males. Another challenge the ram faces is how to include individuals who do not identify as male or female. Having a binary naming system for our sports teams is disrespectful, and could contribute to many individuals not wanting to participate in sports at all.

On June 23, 1972, President Richard Nixon signed Title IX of the Education Amendments, making it now illegal for any school which receives federal funding to sexually discriminate against any students or staff. While all of RSU 21’s activities claim to comply with Title IX, students in Kennebunk are still subject to these derogatory team names and monikers nearly 50 years after this major win for gender equality.

So now the question must be raised: Is the ram still an acceptable mascot for our schools? The answer is no. While a ram is the 4th most popular mascot in Maine, the rich tradition does not outweigh the detriments. We need to lead the charge in creating an accepting and original name for our teams.