In response to the recent surge in national support for the Black Lives Matter movement, Ole Miss Esports publicly announced their removal of the name “Rebels” from their team and from all team-affiliated hashtags, making them the first university sports program to ever do so.
“If you can alter something to make something seem more inclusive to the people around you, why would you not?” esports president Sergio Brack said.“If this will make people feel more welcome in our organization and will make people take notice that we’re taking a stand against racial inequality — especially with all of the stuff happening around the world — then that’s what we’re going to do.”
After the university retired Colonel Reb as the sideline mascot in 2003, Brack said he thinks the term “rebels” has a divisive connotation within the student body, especially with the people of color. The term goes all the way back to 1936, when the University Athletic Committee at the time declared it official.
“There’s too many people of color in our organization, too many players of color that we’ve benefited from, to not say something this time and to not try to create the change that we want to see within the university.”
In a tweet earlier this week, the team declared the removal by stating, “In our continued support of #BLM we will be retiring all hashtags referencing to ourselves as Rebels and replacing them with new ones to properly align ourselves with our current mascot.”
The premier esports organization has grown in numbers since its debut three years ago. The team also planned for their own home tournament at the Jackson Avenue Center in April, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament was strictly online.
“It’s a slow build for sure, but like I said, this is our first year as a varsity program,” says Brack. “In the near future, I would say in the next two years max, I believe we’ll have scholarships to give away.”