Greetings, readers. Dominating the sports news the last few days has been the discussion about whether the Washington Redskins should change their nickname, as some view Redskins as offensive to Native Americans. Rebecca and I have just finished doing research on other people’s views on this topic and on other team names; such as the Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Chiefs, and Chicago Blackhawks. So, we will tiptoe through this blog entry and hopefully not offend anyone.
Our main source of information today was from an article on CNN.com from October 8, 2013 by Alison Harding titled “Tribe seeks to force NFL Redskins name change”. The article, and videos on the same page, use interviews and quotes from people attending recent events in Washington, as well as older interviews. Included are statements from the Washington Redskins team owner Dan Snyder, from President Barack Obama, and from the Oneida Indian Nation representative Roy Halbritter. Other views: One gentleman made the point that a lot of pee-wee and high school teams across the county use the name Redskins. If they were forced to change the name as well, imagine how much money that would cost. Another person said that many fans don’t mind the name, and continue to purchase tickets and merchandise with the Redskins logo on it. Until that stops, the name change probably won’t happen.
In my research I have learned that the Washington Redskins have been an NFL franchise since 1933 and before that they were in Boston. According to this article, the franchise began in Boston and if I understand the article correctly, the team was already called the Redskins. If this is not correct, I apologize.
An easy fix would be this. In the early 80s, Washington had a United States Football League team called the Washington Federals. Why don’t the Redskins just buy the rights and call themselves the Federals? I’m sure something could be worked out. Even though that team was only in existence for two seasons in the failed USFL I never heard anyone complain about the name or the logo.
Over the years the Redskins name change has bubbled to the surface only to dissipate. Recently, President Barack Obama said that if he owned the team, he would consider changing the name if it offended other people. However, Redskins owner Dan Snyder said he would never change the name and in an interview last spring he told a reporter that you can put ‘never’ in CAPS. Roy Halbritter, representing the Oneida Indian Nation, said that Redskins is a racial slur that hurts the self-image of Native American children.
My personal view is this; Being the wishy-washy person I am, I can see both sides of the coin. The Redskins name has been around since at least 1933, if not longer. But that is really no excuse for continuing to offend Native Americans. Sure it would be easy to change the name to the Federals or the Congressmen, or even the Deficits (haha), but just like the Indianapolis Colts, formerly of Baltimore, and the St. Louis Rams, formerly of L.A., it would take generations of fans to get used to the new name. The bottom line, however, is this: The name is offensive. In a video clip to the above linked article, the name Redskin is a racial slur according to the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary.
Ok, now that I have Washington off my chest, let’s talk about other teams. Names like Braves, Chiefs, Blackhawks, and Seminoles do not seem to have any racial slur attached to them. This is why I think that the Redskins are being singled out. I’ve learned that the Florida State College Football team actually got permission from the Seminole tribe to use their name. Kudos to them.
The other big question then becomes, should all sports franchises using Native American nicknames, be forced to change their nickname? I say no. With the Redskins nickname being an obvious racial slur, that is the one to go if any should.
Until next week, enjoy your day, take care and happy reading.