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Simon Fraser University is considering changing the nick name of the football team, which is affectionately referred to as "The Clan," according to the Winnipeg Sun.
The nickname is in no way a reference to the Ku Klux Klan, or any kind of racist group, but rather refers to the school's Scottish heritage, however some feel that the word may still stir up hate. There has been a recent push to have the name changed by a students and athletes at the University.
Obby Khan, a former Blue Bomber offensive lineman remembers the first time he heard the nickname, following his recruitment in 1998.
“So I get a package the next week,” reflected Khan. “And I open it up and the first thing it says is, ‘Welcome to the Clan.’ The Clan? What the hell is this? What the hell did I get myself into? I was shocked.”
Over 22 years later, Simon Fraser University is considering changing the name.
Khan said that while playing in the United States, he saw signs for the KKK and heard racial slurs. The teams away uniforms also happen to be white, which Khan said made matters worse.
Khan said that while all college stadiums are raucous, “Ours was laced with a racial undertone,” said Khan. “People would point me out. I’m a big brown guy. I had a big beard. So they would make racial slurs at me, like, ‘You can’t be playing for that team. Who the F do you think you are? You guys are the Clan. What’s a Paki doing on that team?’
Once the team returned to Canada, the issue didn't arise again, said Khan. However, he and other former team mates now feel it's time to lose the nick name.
Doug Brown, another former SFU player who was later drafted to the NFL said he did not carry any pride from his college years into the NFL.
“I remembered I was packing my stuff, and I didn’t bring a single Clan T-shirt with me,” said Brown. “I was like, ‘There is no way in hell I want to have this conversation with anybody.’ It’s such a hate-filled (term). No matter how it’s spelled, when you hear the word Clan it means something different in the United States of America.
“I don’t want to be the kid from Canada who played for the Clan… if anyone asked where I played, I said SFU. Most guys thought that was San Fresno or San Francisco University – that was my saving grace.”
Ironically, Brown went on to play for the NFL's Washington Redskins, a far more blatantly racially problematic name that may also be changed as social pressures increase for the organization to do so.
The Hall of Fame D-lineman doesn’t understand those who hang onto team nicknames like they’re sacred. If it offends, he says, get rid of it.
“Why can’t you just change it? It’s insulting to so many people,” said Brown. “I don’t know why it’s taken this long. The Clan was at least associated to mean and represent something completely different. But there’s no beating around the bush when it comes to red skin. There’s no different way to interpret it."
Neil McKinlay, another former player of SFU said he was also embarrassed to say where he played prior being drafted to the NFL.
“That was the first place I felt really uncomfortable, trying to explain it,” said McKinlay. “When you go down (to play in the United States) sporting that name with all-white uniforms, all-white helmets and stuff – now looking back and where we are as a society… I can understand now how that looks.”
McKinlay, Brown and Khan say that they are proud of how the current student-athletes are pushing Simon Fraser University to do the right thing.
“I’m proud of the University for recognizing that, and taking into consideration where we are now,” said McKinlay. “They’re being progressive.”
“When I opened that letter and it said, ‘Welcome to the Clan’ – we have to break that,” said Khan. “Even though they’re not affiliated in any way, shape or form, the name is enough to associate it. That has to be broken.”