Jul 26, 2013; Richmond, VA, USA; A Washington Redskins player

The Redskins should end the distraction and change the name

Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has been adamant that as long as he owns the team, the nickname “Redskins” will not be changed.  Yet it seems the more The Redskins organization tries to fight this issue, the more controversial it becomes, and the bigger of a distraction it becomes as well.

It’s Dallas Cowboys week for the Washington Redskins, and yet the controversy surrounding the team’s nickname is the major topic of discussion.  Even the President of the United States Barack Obama with all he has on his plate right now, can’t help but to chime in on this issue.  But the focus should be on football for the Redskins, not politics.  Something needs to be done to bring the focus back where to it belongs.  On football.

Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

As a Redskins fan I can understand Snyder’s reasoning for not wanting to change the name.  Many Redskins fans don’t view the nickname as negative because it invokes positive feelings.  When we hear the name it reminds us of the days of glory gone by.  Like when the great Joe Gibbs led the team to its three Super Bowl wins in the 80′s and 90′s, and so keeping the name helps us to hold on to those feelings.

Instead of fans thinking of the word as a racial slur, to many Redskins fans the word means victory, it means a mindset of how you identify yourself as a football fan.  When I became a Redskins fan as a child, I didn’t know the word began as a racial slur, it was just the name of my favorite team.  But times change, and what may have been acceptable years ago isn’t necessarily acceptable today.

Now logic suggests that you don’t choose to name a team after something you don’t admire.  That wouldn’t make sense, would it?  But the fighting spirit of Native American tribes instilled an admiration of that spirit into their enemies.

That’s why so many football teams adopted American Indian names, to try to emulate that fighting spirit on the football field.  But it all seems a little misguided now.  Native Americans are no longer warriors, and there is so much more of their culture that should rise to the forefront of interest for all Americans besides this idea that they were great warriors.

But you can’t always make changes on a whim of political correctness simply because someone doesn’t like something about your product.  However, this controversy is much more than a whim.  It’s become a major thorn in the side for the franchise, and it’s time to pull the thorn out.  By changing the name, Daniel Snyder can bring positive feelings and reverence to the franchise, and lift the weight of negativity that’s engulfing it.

Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard enough fighting for victory on the football field, but with this issue, the Redskins organization has to constantly fight a public relations battle off the field as well.  A battle to justify the use of the Redskins name.   Is money the justification?  I’m sure re-branding could cost the team and the NFL $millions, which more than likely adds to owner Daniel Snyder’s reluctance to change.

But is this annual battle over the name really worth all the distractions and controversy that comes with it?  I don’t think it is.  The biggest thing for this team right now should be taking on the Dallas Cowboys, and yet here we are, debating the name issue.  The focus should be on the team itself, and not its nickname.

What’s more important to a team and it’s fan base, the team’s brand of football, or the brand name of the football team?  In the end, it’s a team’s winning brand of football that defines it.  Along with its owners, its players, its coaches, its history, and most importantly it’s fans, all work to define and formulate the essence of a team.  Not a nickname.  It’s time to end the distraction and change the name.

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  • robert smith

    Sticks and stones may
    break my bones


    [email protected]

    Every five years or so, the PC police turn their attention to
    Washington, D.C., ready to confront the worst event that has ever happened to
    Native Americans: the naming of the city’s professional football team.

    Sports writers near and far are all on the bandwagon, calling
    for the team to change its name, all in the interest of finally achieving that
    “kumbaya” moment of an American utopia.

    Contrary to the ideals of journalism, the Kansas City Star,
    local newspaper for the Kansas City Chiefs and Arrowhead Stadium, goes as far
    as censoring itself when writing about D.C. football by referring to the team
    as “Washington.”

    The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian
    held a symposium on Feb. 7 to address this supposed symbol of racism. A panel
    made up of self-congratulating intellectuals — including Washington Post sports
    columnist Mike Wise — concluded that the name must go in order for the native
    peoples to rise up from their plight in life. Wise went as far as saying that
    the high rate of alcoholism and suicides among Native Americans is a direct
    result of this and other insensitive nicknames and mascots.


    Suzan Shown Harjo, lead panelist and attack person on this
    issue, is the president and executive director of The Morning Star Institute, a
    national, non profit Indian rights organization. Harjo claims, among others,
    that the name “had its origins in the practice of presenting bloody red skins
    and scalps as proof of Indian kill for bounty payments.”

    Sounds heinous enough. The only problem is that it is
    revisionist history and not true, refuted by Ives Goddard, curator and senior
    linguist at the Smithsonian’s Department of Anthropology at the National Museum
    of Natural History. Goddard’s research into the matter concluded that the first
    known use of the term was in this 1769 message from a chief of one of the
    tribes of Illinois to Lt. Col. John Wilkins, inviting him to talks between the
    British and their tribes after Pontiac’s Rebellion: “I shall be pleased to have
    you come to speak to me yourself if you pity our women and our children; and,
    if any redskins do you harm, I shall be able to look out for you even at the
    peril of my life.”

    In Goddard’s essay, “I
    Am a Red-skin”: ‪The Adoption of a Native American Expression (1769-1826)‬,
    he went further and said “the actual origin of the word is entirely benign and
    reflects more positive aspects of relations between Indians and whites. It
    emerged at a specific time in history among a small group of men linked by
    joint activities that provided the context that brought it forth.” He ends the
    book by saying “The descent of this word into obloquy is a phenomenon of more
    recent times.”

    I am not advocating racism. Maybe the team should change its
    name, if it causes so much misery. But, this panel should turn their collective
    ire toward the root cause of the centuries-old suppression of the indigenous
    peoples of this land: The U.S. government.

    Racism toward the Native Americans has been
    institutionalized in our most sacred of documents: The Declaration of
    Independence. In addressing colonial grievances against King George III, among
    others, Jefferson wrote, “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and
    has endeavoured (sic) to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the
    merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished
    destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”

    Where is the outrage? Would a trip to the National Archives
    cause a Native American to fall in the death spiral of low self esteem, as said
    by Wise?

    And speaking of symbols of repression and hate, look no
    further than the $20 bill and President Andrew Jackson.

    Ole’ Hickory, as he is affectionately known, was a wealthy
    slave owner and polarizing figure who forced the relocation of thousands of
    Cherokee, Muscogee, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw from the East Coast to
    Oklahoma — which, incidentally, means “red people” — on what is called the
    “Trail of Tears.” The Indian Removal Act of 1830 caused thousands to die,
    amounting to what is known as “ethnic cleansing.”

    Two years ago, I took a trip to the Cherokee reservation in
    North Carolina — part of which is located in Jackson County, ironically. A tour
    guide at the museum addressed this issue by saying that “Jackson on the $20
    bill is the same as if Hitler were on an Israeli shekel.”

    Again, where is the crocodile-tear outrage?

    By bringing attention to words and not the root causes,
    however noble, self-perpetuates racism by keeping people divided. As long as we
    continue to dwell on words as the cause of racism, racism will not go away. Too
    much energy is focused in the wrong direction.

    Better instead to focus our attention on the actual cause of
    the plight of Native Americans by recalling all the broken treaties, stolen
    land and massacres. Their penning up on reservations ensures they have
    virtually no chance of employment or a college education. Could this be a cause
    of the high rate of alcoholism and suicides on reservations, Mr. Wise? Has
    changing the name of other mascots alleviated the suffering that is still
    imposed upon these people? No, it hasn’t.

    I propose that the next symposium be held at the Bureau for
    Indian Affairs.

    Until the real cause of this oppression is addressed, I have
    one thing to say: Hail to the Redskins.

    • http://fanonfiresportswire.com/ Maurice Barksdale

      My point is that this is a controversy that will not die. It distracts from the team and what they are trying to do on the field. Snyder needs to realize this will never go away, no matter how many statements he releases, it will get to appoint where this issue overshadows the team. It’s not worth the fight.

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