Washington “Redskins” controversial name, should they change it?


Frank Passalacqua, Opinion Editor

In recent years, there has been little talks around the league that the NFL was considering changing the Washington “Redskins” name, due to it’s nature of being offensive to Native Americans.

The reasoning for it being found offensive is that the term “redskins” is also referred to as a racial slur.

Nothing ever came of it, until recently.

Towards the beginning of the 2014 NFL season, the topic surfaced once again, and this time, it gained much more media attention.

Players, owners, media outlets, ESPN, Native American tribes, and now even US Senators are urging the NFL to act quickly and change the name.

In June, The United States Patent and Trademark Office canceled six federal trademark registrations for the Redskins

Numerous featured columnists who write for large sports websites refuse to use the name, certain ESPN personalities went on the record to say they will not say the name on live tv.

How far is this going to go before the NFL changes it, and honestly, should they?

Before we break this down some more and get into the controversial aspect of this let us look at the facts.

The Washington Redskins were originally known as the Boston Braves. In 1933, co-owner George Preston Marshall changed the name to the Redskins, in recognition of the then–head coach William Henry “Lone Star” Dietz, who claimed to be part Sioux. On July 6, 1933, the Boston Herald reported that “the change was made to avoid confusion with the Braves baseball team.

Since their creation, the Redskins franchise has had it’s fair share of the history books.

In 1937 and 1942, the Redskins won the “NFL Championships.” In 1982, 1987, and 1991, the Redskins won the Superbowl. This rich history, all under the name Redskins, is something many locals, die-hard fans, former players and coaches, and current owner Dan Snyder, do not want to see changed.

In 2002, a poll commissioned by Sports Illustrated found that 75% of those American Indians surveyed had no objection to the Redskins name. Again in 2004, a poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania supported the prior poll’s findings, concluding that 91% of the American Indians surveyed in the 48 states on the mainland USA found the name acceptable and setting out in detail the exact wording of the questions.

Even to this day, after reading many articles and watching EPSN reports and documentaries, many people (and Native Americans) still do not find the term to be offensive or racial in any way.

Why should a team have to change the name of their franchise because a petition was started to change it, and a very small percentage of people find it offensive?

If we are going to say the Redskins is an offensive term, relating to the color of their skin and having an indian as their mascot, then let’s look at some other teams and mascots that could be considered racial.

Kansas City Chiefs- refers to Indians.

Chicago Blackhawks- Almost identical logo as the Redskins.

Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Hawks and the Golden State Warriors all have names that once or currenlty relate to the term “Indian.” Why are the Redskins the only one under fire?

“Do the right thing” is the campaign facing the NFL for changing their name, but who can decide that is the actual “right” thing to do?

If this change were to be completed, it would cost the franchise millions of dollars in rebranding (changing every thing named “Redskins” in the stadium, websites, official nerchandise and every jersey ever sold to date), and lastly, how can you stop fans from wearing their old “redskins” jersey into the games?

The topic is seemingly 50-50 when you talk to people about their opinions, but I for one think changing an entire franchise to satisfy a handful of people is wrong. The Redskins are apart of the NFL, and history of football, and that is something that cannot be changed.