Its football season! And like the changing color of the leaves its time for a certain topic to pop up again for discussion in the Washington DC Metro area. Should the Redskins change their name? For years the answer was a resounding no from all Redskin fans and non fans alike. But now the tide is changing….finally. And more and more people as well as institutions are calling on the Washington Redskin organization and Dan Snyder to change the name of the team.
Sports Illustrated’s ‘MMQB’ site apparently won’t use the Redskins name any more. Nor will Slate Magazine (owned by The Washington Post Company), the online publication USA Today’s Christine Brennan, Grantland. They join the Piscataway and Oneida Nations, Mike Wise of The Washington Post, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, 12 members of Congress and a growing number of the nation’s population who find using a racial slur as a team name not only hurtful but repulsive.
Those old and racially insensitive rejoinders that hold that it’s an honor for Native Americans to be used as a title for a sports team and that “its not meant to be a slur” are not listening to the very people the name is denigrating. They are not listening to the fans who agree or the many who have written and implored Dan Snyder to do the right thing and change the name. No, it appears the all mighty buck is in charge as well as Dan Snyder.
The NFL and Dan Snyder say it would cost the team (meaning both of them) millions, maybe tens of millions in revenue to change the name. Loss of copyright, loss of the proceeds in sales of Redskin memorabilia, and anything else they can imprint the name and logo on. Plus in their eyes, other teams have names that are similar and they haven’t changed them. What? Are they 5 years old? Thats normally the age that uses that sort of excuse. I know they are talking about the Atlanta Braves, the Cleveland Indians, Chicago Blackhawks, the Golden State Warriors and many, many more. And guess what, those teams need to change their names too.
Picture for a minute all those mascots dressed as Native Americans, those cartoon logos that scream of another era, and the painted, feathered, tomahawk chopping fans that attend each game and appear on so many sports screens, sports extras shows and vids. I am even talking about our beloved elderly Chief Zee, who first attended his first Washington game in 1978 and has been a semi official mascot ever since. Now lets switch over and try to see it from the point of view of a Native American. You know, those indigenous peoples whose land we took, tribes we slaughtered, language and cultures we suppressed and who are still trying in every court in the nation to regain not only their heritage but the respect and recognition that should have always been theirs. Pretty ugly, isn’t it. Downright shameful, no matter how you look at it.
Hard to believe we are still arguing about this. How do you justify the pain and hurt that is caused when a slur is treated as something acceptable? In the past, it was the N word. Now everyone knows that it is never acceptable to use or suffer the consequences (loss of sponsors, jobs, income, see Paula Dean and others). The F word is rapidly going the same way, a fact that is long overdue as is LGBTQ rights. The R word is just as offensive, although some people are still hiding in the past. Just on the fact alone that Native Americans find this term, this word, not only racially offensive but disparaging and derogatory should make it (and other similar names) disappear from sports teams everywhere. And although its origin and usage is in dispute*, the fact that most people now perceive it to be a racial slur should make its usage taboo.
What is it going to take for these owners and teams to make a change? A Supreme Court decision? Considering the amount of lawsuits in play that could happen. But I would like to think it will be because the people spoke with their wallets. So, NFL, MLB, NHL, the Redskins and Dan Snyder, you are standing your ground and won’t switch? OK, then we won’t pay to go to your games. We won’t pay to watch your games on Pay For View. We won’t buy tickets, or team memorabilia. Those expensive team logo clothes? Nuh uh. Those beer mugs and team flags for the cars? Pass on them too.
This isn’t about RGIII. I really hope his knee is fine and his career is long. It’s not about Mike Shanahan and his team. They are OK too. Even that troll (in my opinion) of an owner, no it is about him, no question. It’s about doing the right thing, no matter the cost. So that’s why I will be waiting until the name is changed to support a Washington team. It could be the Washington Lobbyists or the Washington Scribes. The Washington Lawmakers or the Washington Federals. I kind of like that last one, it has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it? Certainly the Washington Capitals and the Washington Nationals didn’t seem to have a problem finding an appropriate name. And if you want to look to a role model, look no further than to the departed and deeply missed Abe Pollin who decided he couldn’t live with owning a team named the Bullets with kids and adults dying every year by the gun. So he renamed them the Wizards and went forward without missing a step, now that’s a responsible owner.
So I am sticking to the Washington Caps, and the Nats and maybe even the Ravens. Who knows? The only thing for certain, is that I won’t be rooting for a certain Washington football team. No more red and gold for me. They probably don’t care. I am only a small voice but the number is growing. Oh, to hear a multitude sing……
*Language Log: The Origin of Redskin, Are You Ready For Some Controversy? The History Of ‘Redskin …
Now for the week ahead in reviews:
Monday, Sept 16: Defiance (Triple Threat #3) by L.E. Harner
Tuesday, Sept. 17: The Crimson Outlaw by Alex Beecroft
Wed., Sept. 18: Superpowered Love: Reentry Burn by Katey Hawthorne
Thurs., Sept. 19: Black Dog by Cat Grant
Friday, Sept. 20: Crucify by L.E. Harner
Sat., Sept. 21: Accidental Alpha by Poppy Dennison