Washington Redskins Owner Won’t Change Name of the Team – Should He? [POLL]
Tradition flies in the face of change. Or is it the other way around?
Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, hearing a louder chorus of protesters chanting for a name change for the beloved and storied Washington Redskins, vows never to change it.
And should he?
After all, it’s his team, and for the most part, he can do with it what he wants.
However the NFL is taking exception to that. In an interview, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suggested words to the effect that if one group objects, then Snyder shoud at least hear them out.
As did the President, when asked, he also suggested Snyder consider a name change. (Like he has nothing better to think of!)
In May, Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder said he would never change the name of the team, despite calls from Native American groups, lawmakers and others who feel the term is derogatory. But those calls have grown increasingly louder.
In a notable shift in tone, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell said last month that the league should listen to those who are offended by the name. “If one person is offended, we have to listen," Goodell said in a radio interview.
On Saturday, President Barack Obama weighed in on the controversy, telling the Associated Press that if he were Snyder, he'd consider a name change. “If I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team — even if it had a storied history — that was offending a sizable group of people, I’d think about changing it," Obama said.
The NFL declined to comment about Obama’s statement.
But the president's comments were applauded by the Oneida Indian Nation, which is hosting a protest event in Washington on Monday at a hotel where NFL owners are scheduled to convene for their fall meeting.
“As the first sitting president to speak out against the Washington team name, President Obama’s comments today are historic,” Ray Halbritter, a representative for the group, said in a statement. “The use of such an offensive term has negative consequences for the Native American community when it comes to issues of self-identity and imagery.
” Lanny Davis, an attorney for Snyder, defended his client's decision to stick with "Redskins," pointing to a 2004 Annenberg Institute poll that found 9 out of 10 Native Americans were not offended by the team's name.
. "Like devoted fans of the Atlanta Braves, the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Blackhawks (from President Obama’s home town), we love our team and its name," Davis said in a statement.
"And, like those fans, we do not intend to disparage or disrespect a racial or ethnic group.” According to a June poll conducted by the Washington Post, 66 percent of adults in the D.C. area do not support a name change.
Nonetheless, former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Reed Hundt is working to persuade broadcasters to stop using the Redskins name as several prominent sports journalists, including Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, have already done.
And last month, the Washington Post's editorial board denounced the name. "We hope," the board wrote, "that Mr. Snyder finally understands that the team’s name — no matter its storied tradition or importance to many fans — is a racial slur of Native Americans so offensive that it should no longer be tolerated." The Post noted that the team has "slowly shed pieces of its Indian-themed imagery."
Still, the mounting pressure to change the name may not amount to much, as Snyder has been steadfast — even stubborn — in his stance.
“We’ll never change the name," he told USA Today. "It’s that simple. NEVER – you can use caps.”
So what’s in a name anyway?
The name “Redskins” harkens to a time when society didn’t make such a fuss over what we now consider derogatory. And perhaps we were better off, in some ways, as a society then.
That is to say, in not taking offense at nomenclature. For instance, “retarded” has been replaced by “developmentally disabled” and the like.
My guess is that it won’t be long before Snyder and similar owners of teams will get swept up in the tide of change and find other mascots after which to name their teams.
Washington “Native Americans” anyone?