What’s in a Name?
It appears to now be inevitable that the Washington Redskins will have to change their name. A part of me is more than okay with that because I’ve never liked the Skins. If this is a distraction to the team, the front office, the hated owner, than that’s cool, maybe it will cause them to lose focus on the team a bit and that might lead to a few more losses.
Another part of me thinks this is just a continuation of the Donald Sterling issue, albeit much less volatile. Our society is all to ready to turn on something or someone based on the thoughts or complaints of a very small number. Somehow the Redskins have survived-in our nations capital nonetheless-for 80 years, without enough people forcing the team to change its nickname.
Most national polls showed that the majority of people, including Native Americans, didn’t have a problem with the name. As a matter of fact many Native Americans, including my part-Cherokee wife, thought it was the least the country could do to honor their people. She and her family take pride in all the teams that have Indian mascots. As a non-Native American, I do think there is a difference between using the nickname “Indians, or Braves” versus “Redskins.” My wife didn’t really care, her feeling is, “Yea Native Americans do have reddish skin color, that’s a fact, not a criticism.”
The other fact that I think is hard to over look is, why would any team or school use a nickname that they think is disparaging or a joke? Would someone call their team the “Jackasses” or the “Fighting Drunks”? Your team mascot is a huge sense of pride for your players and fans. As I said, it seems like today 200 people can sway the opinion of a million people. That drives me crazy. But this Redskins controversy seems to be a snowball rolling down hill.
I think the smart thing for owner Daniel Snyder to do is to suck it up, which is not something I think his enormous ego will allow him to do, and rename the team the “Tribesmen” or the “Americans” or something that pays tribute to the Native American community. I do think the term “Redskin” can be considered offensive, although why aren’t people from Ireland offended by the “Fighting Irish?” Does that suggest Irish are always drunkard’s who brawl? It doesn’t bother me at all, as an Irishman, but in today’s climate it would only take a few dozen Irish people, who may want to make a name for themselves, to start a rally for banning the name. Some religious groups have spoken up about Duke’s mascot-Blue Devils- are they promoting worshiping the devil? Hell no, a mascot is supposed to elicit some fear to their opponents. That’s why you don’t see a lot of nicknames like “Tulips” or “Dalmatians.”
If Redskins are supposed to be a feared mascot, as it most certainly was originated, than it should be seen as a powerful and strong name, not one that is a mockery. As I said at the beginning, I’m fine either way, I just don’t want it to start a precedent where a dozen lonely guys try to get their fifteen minutes of fame. Ultimately I just like seeing Snyder, and his Red Hoard, having to waste valuable time dealing with this instead of the Cowboys offense.
To read another ScoreBoardTX take on this subject, click here to read Tom Fireoved’s May 1 article http://www.scoreboardtx.com/2014/05/01/3538/