Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Cripples, Worms and Insects


There’s a professional hockey team called the Nashville Predators. Thinking about that name has helped me figure out a lot about the status of cripples in society.

Because like I’ve said before, at least one thing cripples don’t have to complain about is sports teams named after stereotypes of us. We're not like the poor tribes, being hounded by stuff like the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians. There hasn’t been a team that I know of with a name like the Indiana Invalids. Hell, there hasn’t even been a team with one of those cutesy cripple names, like the Houston Handicapables or the Philadelphia Physically Challenged.

But is this completely a good thing? Why would a team owner want to associate their team with predators but not cripples?

I then I thought I figured out the answer. Maybe it’s because cripples are perceived to be the opposite of predators. We’re prey. And the world of sports is all about predators and prey. There’s a clash and one side wins and one side loses. Period. So if you have to choose sides, you might as well choose the winning side, which is the predators.

But then I reminded myself that not all teams are named after beasts. Some are named after birds. They’re often predatory birds, like hawks and eagles. But there are also cute little tweety birds, like cardinals and blue jays.

These birds are hardly predators. But then again, aren’t concepts of predator and prey relative, depending on the point of view of a given species? Aren’t cardinals and blue jays vicious predators, if you’re a worm or an insect? To them, tweety birds must look like pterodactyls.

But when viewed through a human centric lens, which is what we do when naming sports teams, tweety birds are strictly prey. So that must mean that it’s acceptable to name your sports team afar some creatures that aren’t predators first and foremost, but not many others.

Then this, it seems to me, must be why you don’t see sports teams named after worms, insects or cripples. We’re all too far down the food chain. Well I suppose there might be some sports teams named after spiders. At least spiders are scary to humans. Cripples are scary to humans, too, but not in a way that has any marketing appeal.

So maybe nobody names sports teams after cripples because we are viewed as among the lowest, most vulnerable prey. The only thing we are a threat to feast upon wantonly and voraciously is the public treasury. And that’s not the dignified kind of predator. 

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