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.
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.
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.