Washington Redskins owner’s refusal to change team name more stubborn than wise2 min read

Cole Yamamura, Staff Writer

Think of all the racial slurs that you have ever heard. Does “Redskins” come to mind?

Redskins is a name that has evolved over time from being a racial slur against Native Americans, to a term more closely identified with Washington, D.C.’s NFL franchise.

Every time we say Redskins, whether the name is broadcast on national television, distributed on jerseys and memorabilia, or selected as your team on the John Madden Football video game, we are resurrecting the term’s original purpose of denigrating Native Americans.

Those who sympathize with Redskins management argue the name is important to tradition; that despite the word’s dark history, it has no intention to be racially offensive.

However, the tradition that the team so vehemently protects has only been in existence for 81 years. Native Americans have lived in North America quite a bit longer than the 81 years that the Redskins have been in existence.

Native American groups are not alone in their fight against the nickname. Many prominent figures have joined the cause, including NBC Sports’ Bob Costas.

“Ask yourself what the equivalent would be,” Costas said during halftime of a Sunday Night Football telecast, “if [a similar term was] directed towards African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians or any other ethnic group.”

Even President Barack Obama expressed his opinion on the controversy.

“If I were the owner of the team and I knew that the name of my team — even if they’ve had a storied history — was offending a sizable group of people, I’d think about changing it,” Obama said.

If the president and a respected sports figure such as Costas are against the nickname, then who could be for it?

One man, Daniel Snyder, the team’s owner, has the authority to change the name anytime he wants.

Despite mounting pressure to make the change, Snyder refuses to see the debate from the other side.

“We’ll never change the name,” Snyder said, “It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”

There is a distinct Native American presence in professional sports. Major League Baseball has the Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves, and the NHL has the Chicago Blackhawks, but none evoke the same racial disrespect as Redskins.

Snyder needs to place himself in the shoes of the thousands of outraged American citizens, obtain a sense of moral responsibility, and finally change the name.

If I had a vote, I would nominate “Potatoskins” for the team name. Now that would be awesome.

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