Not long ago I wrote an op-ed about why I believe the Washington Redskins need to change their name. It’s an extensive piece, but to summarize my key points I’ll say that in a modern era where social adjustments have been made to encourage the recognition of minority ethnic groups as equals, Native Americans deserve that same kind of respect. The NFL is an entity whose actions bear significant influence because the NFL plays such a prominent role in American culture. For the NFL to come out and say that the name “Redskins” is offensive and derogatory would set the kind of example that would influence society’s thinking, and hopefully the political landscape for years to come.
Roger Goodell addressed the issue Friday at his annual Super Bowl news conference, saying he was “listening and being respectful” to the Native American community and anyone else taking the plaintiff’s stance in the debate. Lobbyists have been intensified pursuit of this topic in correspondence to the increased protest amongst the Native Americans.
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“We are trying to understand the issues. Let me remind you this is the name of a football team, a football team that’s had the name for 80 years and has presented it in a way that honors Native Americans,” continued Goodell.
I understand why from a PR standpoint Goodell had to qualify the Redskins stance on the issue, but the statute of limitations has run out on using “it’s tradition” as an excuse. They’re valiant efforts to appease without giving away the upper hand and keeping the beloved name.
Here’s my theory. I addressed in my previous article that there were other names in sports that allude to Native Americans. I’ve compiled the most recognizable: Golden State Warriors, Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Blackhawks, Florida State Seminoles, Illinois Fighting Illini and the Washington Redskins.
Picture the following scenario. You bring a friend with Native American ancestry to a party, where there will be a lot of people they have not met. When you introduce him to your friends, which of the above team names would you feel comfortable using to describe your guest? Warrior or Brave would be a compliment; Chief would be titular; Indian would be pushing it; Seminole or Illini would mean specific tribes; and Redskin would still be discriminatory and racist.
The NFL starting to do a mean MLB impression if it stays as conservative as it has been and doesn’t address this issue soon. More importantly Snyder should be taking the initiative on his own to change the team’s name. His approval rating hasn’t been high since I was was in middle school, if he doesn’t have someone in his ear telling him to act now he needs a better publicist.