PHOENIX - A bill introduced in the Arizona House of Representatives would ban the use of any mascot or team name in a professional or college stadium deemed offensive.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Eric Descheenie (D-Chinle), would allow Arizona tribes to decide if a team name or mascot was offensive or derogatory.
The bill is aimed at the Washington Redskins football team, but could also apply to other Native-American themed teams, like the Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves and Kansas City Chiefs.
Speaking at a press conference Wednesday morning, Descheenie said that because those stadiums and arenas are publicly funded, the state could decide to restrict free speech inside them.
"I'm not a mascot," Descheenie said Wednesday. "And neither are any of the people behind me."
The bill would not affect high schools, Descheenie said. Descheenie's own district includes two schools whose mascots are also the Redskins. Both St. John High School and Red Mesa High School in Arizona have the same mascot.
When asked why his bill stops short of challenging high school names, Descheenie said: "Because they (college and professional teams) profit off of it, because they market it. When you showcase that enough over and over and over again, it gets into the social fabric of our entire society," Descheenie said.
Descheenie admitted he does not expect his bill to pass, but he said the point was to make a statement.
"I am under no illusions that this may not go anywhere," he said. "It likely will not."