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I’m convinced: time for Washington to change team’s name

NFL_logoI didn’t grow up watching football. Sports – of any kind – weren’t real high on the list around my house. My freshman year in college, I worked at a department store over the Christmas holidays. One day, I was assigned to hand pens to a football player, who was there to sign autographs. To the horror of the fans lined up, I had no idea who Ken Houston was.

It was a few years later when I met my football-loving other half and started following the sport. And, naturally, I became a fan of the NFL team in Washington. (Primarily because there was little TV coverage of anyone else.) All these years later, I’m still a fan.

But I’m no longer a fan of the nickname. I’ve been uncomfortable with it for a while, referring to the team as the Skins rather than by its full nickname. Over the weekend, I ran across this article, which should be required reading for every fan of the Washington team. It convinced me that it is time for Washington to come up with something different.

I think I vaguely knew of George Preston Marshall, the former owner of the team, but not at the level of detail provided in the linked article. I certainly didn’t have any knowledge of his racist past. My early years becoming a football fan occurred in the Jack Kent Cooke era, and I never really researched how or why the team’s nickname came into being.

Given the legacy of Marshall, the Washington NFL team is way overdue to change its name. I particularly like the way that Michael Tomasky phrased it in his article:

He [current owner Dan Snyder] could say something like: “We all know that while George Preston Marshall did great things for this city and this franchise, his racial legacy is not something we can be proud of. The name Redskins is, alas, part of that legacy. I therefore have decided…”

I’m no fan of Snyder. But he’d move up a notch in my book if he did this.

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11 thoughts on “I’m convinced: time for Washington to change team’s name

  1. Sometimes being PC is not the right thing… WE are the ones who turned Redskin into a disparaging remark.
    Love your site and editorials, but I think you’ve needlessly jumping on the “anti” bandwagon here after reading a (link bait) article. Check out the article linked at the bottom for a differing viewpoint on the controversy…

    “In 1933, George Preston Marshall, the owner of the team, which was then located in Boston, renamed it the Boston Redskins in honor of the head coach, William “Lone Star” Dietz, an American Indian.³ When the team moved to Washington in 1937 it was renamed the Washington Redskins.

    The term redskin of course goes much farther back than 1933. The details of this history have recently been explored by Ives Goddard of the Smithsonian Institution, in a paper conveniently available on-line. Some of the evidence is available in greater detail on Goddard’s web site. You can read speeches by the Meskwaki chief Black Thunder and the Omaha chief Big Elk in which the expression redskin is used, and early nineteenth century examples of the Meskwaki usage of terms meaning redskin and whiteskin.”

    http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/002961.html

    • Thanks for that link. I appreciate a different point of view on a subject that has been bothersome for me for a long time. This sentence

      I think that it is well established that redskin is taken by most people today to be disparaging. What is more interesting is whether it has always been so

      sums it up rather well.

      I’ll take a look at the other links as well. Not sure they will change my mind, but certainly will give me more information.

  2. The burden of proof that the redskins name is racist falls on the individual making the charge. It must be empirically proved beyond a reasonable doubt., to sway my views on the subject. So far the courts have ruled in favor of the Redskins. These decisions were based on technicalities. I take the court as being right to it can be proven otherwise

  3. I know I look 100% caucasian, but I have Cherokee on my father’s side of the family. I’m proud of it. 1/16th of my DNA is Cherokee. From that standpoint, I don’t find the name as it is today, to be racist.

    As a Dallas Cowboys fan that truly dislikes the “Skins”, and despite my desire to pile on any chance possible, I think this whole ordeal is doing more harm than good. Redskin fans are proud of their mascot and name. They see being an American Indian as being a positive.Then again, grown men wearing dresses and pig noses says little for their sense of judgement. Then again, if there is no true disparagement today, are we not manufacturing it by this whole business of injecting race into it? If there was any to begin with, the power has been stripped from the words and those words now mean “proud fan”. Race has nothing to do with it. American Indians are not looked down on. There is no longer a pervasive racial hatred. We’ve come a long way. There is no need to go back. Celebrate it rather than pursue political correctness for the sake of being politically correct. It isn’t the right thing to do (changing it). There is no there, there. Well,……until now. Now that race baiting controls what you can name your team. This whole thing opens up wounds that were healing fairly well. It is the pursuit of a problem for the sake of having one.

    My point is, there has been no real modern connection between race and the name Washington Redskins. The power has been taken out of the words and it has become a simple brand name of the team I wish would play well. So I could love to hate them, again! I’m TIRED of feeling sorry for my friends that are Redskin fans. Thank goodness for RG III. Somebody breath life back into a traditional rivalry. Please!

    Celebrate the fact that Redskins are just a harmless brand name. There was once a widespread discrimination against the Irish. They have their sterotypes, too. The term “Redskin” is no more hurtful that “Fighting Irish” today. There will always be that 10% that somebody can point a finger at, but hatred based on skin color is universally condemned. Additionally, hiding our history fails to teach us anything. It robs the children from seeing the mistakes of their ancestors and learning from it. Puritanical “white washing” robs our victory over evil. There is no derision in that name now. Also, one should be proud of their “red” skin. It isn’t a slur. In modern day,it is a generic and a simple name brand that people of poor taste in football teams seem to be fond of.

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