Last week, the Kansas City Chiefs announced a naming rights deal with Government Employees Health Association, a Lee’s Summit-based benefits company for federal employees. And fan reaction was swift both for and against the lucrative deal to rename the field in the Chiefs’ stadium. The change will go into effect next season. Terms were not disclosed, but similar setups with stadiums across the country are usually worth millions of dollars.
The partnership, the first stadium sponsorship for the Chiefs, is a step in the right direction. GEHA Field has a ring to it. Arrowhead Stadium, not so much in 2021. Yes, the franchise has played at the historic venue since 1972. But times have changed. No longer is it acceptable to use degrading Native American imagery or to appropriate Native culture to root on sports teams.
Although fans still use the racially insensitive “Arrowhead Chop” and the honorary custom of banging a war drum remains a game-day tradition, the Chiefs have made strides in addressing the concerns of Native Americans. The organization banned headdresses and other attire that mocks Native Americans.