For the past several years or so a group of Native Americans has been trying to get the name of a certain football franchise changed since they find it offensive.
Time after time their efforts have fallen short as the courts have sided with the franchise over the Native American plaintiffs.
Recently several high profile football writers have joined the campaign to have the Washington Redskins change the “offensive” name of their franchise after 80 years.
It should be noted that there is also a portion of tribes who do not find the team name offensive and see it as just a football team and not an example of trying to stick it to the Native Americans. In fact one recent poll showed that under 10 percent of Native Americans surveyed believed that the name was offensive.
Now before we go any further, and in the spirit of full disclosure, it should be noted that I am an unapologetic Washington Redskins fan who has bled burgundy and gold for as long as I can remember. In fact, I once led an entire elementary school in the singing of “Hail to the Redskins” using a homemade megaphone during a pre Super Bowl rally in the school auditorium.
It should also be noted that to me, and others like me, the name Redskins symbolizes a rich tradition and heritage of football in the Nation’s capitol and in no way is related to anything else.
While I understand that the word is offensive to some Native Americans it could just as easily be said that to change the name would be deemed equally offensive to the loyal fans of the team.
This week the commissioner of the National Football League, Roger Goodell, stated that it would be up to the team owner of the Redskins to decide if the name would be changed.
And that owner, Daniel Synder, has repeatedly said that he would never ever change the name of the team since it has such a rich history.
And since the NFL Commissioner has said it is up to the owner to decide if the name of the franchise is changed I feel fairly confident that there is no name change in the Redskins future; a fact which should definitely put the fan base at ease.
While the recent movement of certain sportswriters to stop saying Redskins in their articles is certainly their right to do, it creates a sort of censorship of its own in terms of the job they were hired to do.
The fact remains that until a time comes when the name changes the Washington Redskins are the NFL team represents the District of Columbia and the surrounding area. As such, any article covering them should use the proper name and not some name that is deemed more appropriate in the opinion of the writer.
Reporters are there to report the facts. They are not there to become part of the story by getting on their bandwagons and following whatever is popular at the time.
While official stories covering the Washington Redskins should use the full name and not some variation of “the NFL team that plays in that stadium named after that delivery company” I am willing to give reporters some leeway in their opinion articles.
So, if someone wants to refrain from using the word Redskins in their opinion articles that is perfectly fine but when it starts creeping into post-game news articles than it has gone too far and has become misplaced grandstanding.
And while I know that there were grave injustices done to the Native Americans many centuries ago the revisionist history and seeking to appease every group needs to stop.
A small minority finds the name offensive. Granted they are a vocal minority but poll after poll suggests that the bulk of Americans do not want the name to be changed.
So are we to change the name to appease a minority while then inciting a larger majority who grew up with the name?
There is no perfect solution that will make everybody happy in this example.
A few years back colleges that had Native American inspired names for their mascots were forced to either change their names or get permission from Native Americans to keep it.
This is how Florida State University was able to remain the Seminoles after the Seminole Indian Tribe agreed the name was not offensive and other schools were forced to change names.
Using the logic of the Washington Redskin detractors the Cleveland Indians should be forced to change their name to the Cleveland Native Americans since “Indians” is deemed an offensive term to some just as a small minority finds “Redskins” to be offensive.
We live in a democracy which guarantees people have the right to express their opinions but it does not guarantee that every opinion held by every group is accepted. This is a majority rules society and the fact remains that a majority of the population wants the Washington Redskins to remain the Washington Redskins.
Of course Washington D.C. is no stranger to having people call for names of their franchises to be changed in the name of political correctness. When I lived in Maryland the NBA team I followed was the Washington Bullets. Shortly after moving to Florida people were up in arms about such a violent name for a franchise so the Washington Bullets became the Washington Wizards.
Having a team named the Bullets does not mean that an area is going to be any more violent than another. There are Bullet trains named because they go fast, not because they kill people.
Not every word is offensive to everyone and if you dig hard enough every word can be offensive to someone.
Rational people need to make rational decisions about these things and having a few reporters boycott the use of words that they find offensive is definitely not the answer to finding a rational solution.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I still have some Washington Redskins cookie cake to eat. Hail to the Redskins!
Copyright 2013 R. Anderson