Should the Crusaders ditch their name?
Last month it was announced that the Crusaders would consider changing their name and dropping their imagery of sword-bearing knights on horseback, following the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch in which 50 people were killed in March.
The Crusaders’ name and imagery has since been subject to much debate due to its link to the Crusades, a series of religious wars between Christians and Muslims over territorial control of holy sites during the Middle Ages.
In an article published on stuff.co.za last month, it was reported that 76 percent of New Zealanders voted for the Crusaders to keep their name.
According to a 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll, 76 percent of those surveyed were against a name change, while 14 percent supported a change and eight percent were unsure. According to the website, from April 6-10, 1009 eligible voters were polled via landline and mobile phone. The maximum sampling error is approximately 3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.
While I can understand that the name – and by extension, much of the Crusaders’ pre-match entertainment – can be linked to the medieval religious wars, one has to ask if it’s enough for the name to be considered offensive in the 21st century.
Besides, would it even have become a talking point had it not been for the horrifying Christchurch attack?
In recent weeks I’ve gathered opinion from the so called “Cape Crusaders” (Muslims in particular) and bar a small number of objections, the general feeling on the matter seems to be an indifferent one.
Most who I spoke to felt that the name shouldn’t be changed, while some even said that they had never even considered the issue until I posed the question.
However, this is a question to which there is no single answer.
The Crusaders rugby brand is an established one and should they really be expected to change their identity and give power to a clearly deranged and hate-filled person?
Also, some things are bigger than rugby.
On the one hand, the continuation of the Crusaders brand as we know it can perhaps be seen as glamorising the holy wars, especially one side.
But on the other hand, did the senseless and diabolical attack just spark an “Aha!" moment which everybody jumped on, drawing a line between a time in history that nobody would have connected to the Canterbury team had it not been for that act?
I don’t know. Different people will feel differently about it. I just feel it shouldn’t become a case of the Crusaders changing their name for the sake of being politically correct over something that never would have been an issue had some deranged person not decided to do what he did.