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Cowboys aren’t an ethnicity; cowboys can be white, black, latino, whatever. Technically, cowboys are a profession — cattlemen — just like the Steelers, Packers, or the old Houston Oilers.

Vikings and Trojans, on the other hand, are historical figures; we don’t have Vikings or Trojans in the modern age, so there aren’t any real-life Vikings or Trojans to offend. But even if there were, neither term is offensive, as Vikings and Trojans are the literal name of those groups (unlike Redskins or Indians; keep in mind that Native Americans are not from India), and the mascots are not caricatures; there’s nothing mocking about those names or mascots. One of the reasons why people generally have much less of a problem with the Chiefs is because, despite its native origins, a “chief” is a real title (rather than slang or slur), and the logo is just an arrowhead (and in the past, their mascot was a horse, not a stereotyped native). Similarly, the Celtics get few complaints because it is the historical name of a people (*EDIT: chazysciota correctly pointed out that the Celtics do have a stereotyped logo).*

Dealing with the Redskins and Indians (as opposed to the Chiefs or Seminoles), I usually use this hypothetical: imagine that we had two teams named the Zulus and the Spearchuckers. The Zulus have the blessing of the descendants of the Zulu nation, and don’t use any caricatures of Africans in the logos; the Spearchuckers have a mascot with buck teeth, big lips and ears, and pitch black skin — all racial stereotypes, alongside the offensiveness of the name itself. We might debate the Zulus, but we would have no doubt that the Spearchuckers are offensive. This is the situation we have with teams like the Seminoles (who work with the Seminole nation) or the Chiefs vs. teams like the Indians and Redskins. And that’s really not an exaggeration — much like Indian or Redskin, we could say “oh, well no one really says ‘spearchucker’ anymore as a racial slur,” but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a very offensive term to African-Americans.

Lastly, we could look at the unique case of the “Fighting Irish” of Notre Dame. There are some people that dislike the stereotype of the Irish as rowdy louts, and indeed, some people dislike the name, but it is worthwhile to consider that, like the Boston Celtics, many Irish people take *pride* in the Fighting Irish, feeling that it’s a representative of their heritage rather than a mockery of it. Very few Native Americans take pride in the Indians or Redskins, which are indeed mockeries.

TL;DR – don’t fixate on the question of “does this name relate to a particular ethnicity” but rather “is this name (and mascot) an *insult* to a particular ethnicity?”

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