What’s in a name? Apparently, quite a lot. The Washington D. C. National Football League franchise has been called the “Redskins” since its inception 81 years ago. Now, a small, but vocal minority of people are pushing to have the name “Redskins” changed. This issue has arisen on and off since the 1980s, but it seems to have gathered fresh momentum recently.
Other sports teams have bowed to similar activist pressure. In recent years St. Johns changed its name from “Red Men” to “Red Storm;” Stanford University changed its name from “Indians” to “Cardinal;” and Miami of Ohio changed its name from “Redskins” to “Redhawks.” Others, such as the Atlanta Braves and Florida State Seminoles, have resisted.
Not surprisingly, many, if not most, of those advocating change or at least the “consideration” of change,are NOT Native Americans. Such prominent personages as President Obama, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and sports commentators Bob Costos and Mike Francessa come to mind. They claim that the name is offensive on its face, a racial slur against Native Americans, a reference to the history of violence and hatred of whites toward Native Americans. On the other hand, others view the name as a tribute to the honor and bravery of Native Americans. Indeed, the theme song, “Hail to the Redskins,” is played and sung by fans in the stadium to celebrate a score by the home team.
So, what do every day people think? All the polls denote that the vast majority of Americans, native or not, see no problem with the moniker and see no need to change it. A recent USA Today poll reported 79% of Americans are in favor of keeping the name; a 2002 poll commissioned by Sports Illustrated showed that 75% of NATIVE AMERICANS surveyed had no objection to the name. Daniel Snyder, the team’s owner, citing these and other polls as well as the team’s 81 year history is “adamant” that the name will not be changed. Technically, his is the only opinion that matters.
What do most Native Americans think? Aside from the abovementioned poll, listen to Rick Riley, perhaps the most respected sports writer in the country. He quotes his father-in-law, a member of the Blackfeet tribe. “The name just doesn’t bother me much. It’s an issue that shouldn’t be an issue, not with all the problems we’ve got in this country.” Want more? Wellpinit (Washington) High School, with a 91% Native American student body is nicknamed the “Redskins.” The superintendent of the school district states he has discussed the matter with both students and parents in the community The overwhelming majority consider it an “honorable name” that they “wear with pride.” Kingston (Oklahoma) High School has used the name for over 100 years and, to them, it is a source of pride. In fact, the very name “Oklahoma” is Choctaw for “red people.”
PREDICTION AND CONCLUSION
My view is that this is another attempt by the PC crowd to decide what is appropriate for the rest of us and impose their will. Aren’t you tired of other people intruding on your life, telling you what to do, think and say, deciding what is “appropriate,” what is “good for you.” I sure am. These protesters should drop it and move on with their lives. As I stated, by overwhelming numbers, Native Americans, whose opinion should matter the most, are not offended. Let’s focus on the really important issues facing us – the economy, the deficit, Iran, North Korea, Russia, the Middle East, terrorism. My hope and expectation is that this non-issue will die out.