Dalton’s TL;DR Rant #4: Everything Wrong with the Redskins Name
I was browsing Reddit (imagine that) when I came across an NFL thread that was titled with a question: What is the greatest obstacle your team needs to overcome to be successful this season? The overwhelming responses involved injuries and defeating the top teams from the previous year, but one little Redskins fan had to turn the whole thing on its head…for me, anyways. He said that he thinks the name of the team is the greatest obstacle to overcome. Not for racial equality or for a fight against racial prejudice, but because it is a distraction to the team and an all-too-common topic for the media during Redskins games. His reasoning wasn’t that the team needed to change the name. In fact, he believed the nation and the media just needed to shut up about it and move on. And while I did write a response, it was minimal and civil. I decided to save my rant till now against these people who support or simply don’t care about such a derogatory term being the name of a football team.
The term “redskin” can be easily equated to calling someone a “negro” or “whitey”. (I have even seen some articles in which the term refers to a scalped Native American.) How much flack would be given if there was a team called the Negros in football (or any sport for that matter)? It would be laughable that it passed any marketing team/organization in today’s world. Yet, there is a legitimate argument over Redskins being an acceptable team name? Really?
The worst excuse I have heard involves “legacy” and “tradition” of a staple franchise of the NFL. Frankly, it’s the only leg the owner has left to stand on, and it is a pretty decrepit leg at that. So, we should still honor the days of slavery and violent racism because “it is a traditional, historic part of this nation!”? Give me a break! Just because we used to do it, doesn’t mean we should continue doing it. The Native American tribes of this nation deserve far greater respect than they are given, and that is outside of simply this stupid team name, but this is a great start.
And yes, there is a HUGE difference between calling your team the Chiefs or the Seminoles as compared to the Redskins. Firstly, the Chiefs are paying homage to the leaders of a people, particularly in battle. The equivalent would be calling your team the Centurions or Generals. The Seminoles are paying homage to a particular tribe, keeping their name in the common public’s eye, and is generally accepted by the tribe as a means of respect. But naming your team after a derogatory term pays no respect and gives no homage, except to the old prejudice of a nation that should be long gone by now.
Donald Sterling (ex-owner of the LA Clippers) is evidence enough that this nation is still trying to get rid of the remaining disease of racism it has been slowly attempting to cure since the Civil War. Donald Sterling is also evidence enough that there are some men out there, some with too much wealth and power, that are still holding strong to beliefs that are outdated and prejudicial. I do not believe Dan Snyder (owner of the Redskins) to be a racist. But I do believe that his inaction towards change and his support for retaining the Redskins name is racially insensitive and thick-headed. Holding on to tradition at the expense of what is right is ridiculous. The argument of “keep doing what you’re doing because that’s how we’ve done it” is the worst principle to live by because it discourages growth ethically.
I’m not attempting to stand on a soapbox and exclaim why I’m idealistically flawless. Prejudice is present in all of us in some form or fashion to some degree. My problem here is not as much the issue of the Redskins name, but the fact that is has been an issue for so long. It has senselessly withstood generations of equality movements and it just doesn’t make any sense. It isn’t time for the Redskins to change their name. That time passed us by a long time ago. The Washington football franchise is a storied organization with worthy recognition through the decades of its existence. And if only it would change its name, you could voice your respect for the organization without leaving a bad taste in your mouth. The name has been around for so long that I think it just sort of went unnoticed. You would say the team name without actually thinking what you were saying. But would you go up to a Native American and call him or her a “redskin”? No? Then why does an organization get to profit from the derogatory term? I rest my case.
TL;DR – The Redskins should not only change their team name, they should have done it years ago/never had the name to begin with.