Saturday, August 23, 2014

Post on the Warpath; New Redskins Name?

I like this alternative logo; no name change.
The Washington Post has taken the partisan position of refusing to refer to the city's NFL team as the Redskins, which could be a critical move in forcing the team to re-name itself to something less offensive to a number of Americans.

The new policy refers only to the editorial board, not to the news and sports departments, which is a good thing. They have no business taking sides in this.

Some alternatives (including the one pictured here) have been suggested. In the old days of really bad teams, my brother Buck called them the "Deadskins" or the "Foreskins." Political junkies seem to prefer the "Thinskins."  I kinda like the "Porkskins," an underappreciated snack we all love. "Skinheads" might be a tad on the political side and "Danskins" (which would not reflect me, please) could be a bit commercial and suggestive of another controversy. Anyhow, there are plenty of choices. I even thought of the "Crooked Politicians" (a fearsome thought), but that's redundant.

The Post's editorial said, in part, Owner Daniel "Snyder doesn't seem ready to budge on the issue, and the NFL hasn't shown a willingness to step in to force a change. Whether these actions will alter the outlook from the team or the league is a mystery."

Re-branding (oh, I hate that term) may happen and it may not. The original Redskins owner, George Preston Marshall, was a noted racist and the last in the league to integrate his team (the great runner Bobby Mitchell in 1962). He would not have even considered a name change, unless it was to something more offensive.

The important issue here is that a major national publication has taken an institutional stance that will have some influence. But it's going to take a heck of a lot more than that to change the mindset that allows the use of racial stereotypes as nicknames with those using the names insisting they "honor" the groups named.

The use of Native American nicknames in sports is extensive. Consider these from major college and pro sports:

Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Indians (probably the most offensive icon), Golden State Warriors, Edmontom Eskimos, Chicago Blackhawks, Universies of Utah, San Diego State, Hawaii, Florida State, Central Michigan and Bradley. Florida State's nickname, the Seminoles, is supported by the tribe.

In this region, the former Blacksburg Indians became the Bears under pressure in recent years. 

You can see a dated list of nicknames here.


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