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3rd & 10: What’s in a Name?

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Welcome back to the NFL column in the middle of the summer. Here at 3rd and 10 I take my football seriously and am therefore striving to write about something NFL related that is a) interesting and b) not related to Hernandez. Let me tell you, it’s tough. Fortunately Art Monk opened his mouth yesterday and we have a football related topic everyone!

The topic is: Do the Washington Redskins give in and just change their name already.

By give in, I mean change a name that has been the franchise since 1933. Previous to that it was the Braves; in case you were wondering.

Alright, so a brief  history on the name changing push. Congress, being influential sports fans, brought it upon themselves to tell the franchise that 10 of it’s members believe that the name should be changed. They find it outdated and offensive. The Associated Press then took a poll asking what people thought and 79 percent thought that the name should NOT be changed. The Redskins then took a poll themselves and found that 66 percent of their fans did NOT want the name changed. Take THAT Congress.

The Redskins owner, Dan Snyder, has been opposed to the name change from the start. The commissioner, Roger Goodell, has also supported the team keeping their name. A couple of players from the old glory days of the ‘Skins also spoke up about the name. Both Bostic and Theismann believe that the name should stay. (Also Theismann said he played to ‘honor the Native people,’ I don’t really know what this has to do with his legacy but it was an interesting moment of pure BS).

Then old Art Monk spoke up Tuesday morning on WTOP and said a name change “should be seriously considered.” HERE WE GO AGAIN. Darrel Green then piped in (also at the interview) :“It deserves and warrants conversation because somebody is saying, ‘Hey, this offends me.’ ”

Oddly, or, coincidentally, the Redskins already had some sort of private survey going on online. The survey asks the fans what they think about the name. Is it “rooted in racism and outdated and offensive?” Or, is it a “unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.” It then points out that 90% of 1000 Native Americans polled were not offended while a measly 10 members of congress were (read not Native people).

Of course, there’s also the other side of the coin. Susan Harjo is an American Indian rights activist who is the leading plaintiff in a battle for the name to change, said: ““The r-word is the most derogatory thing Native Peoples can be called in the English language.”  I’ve also seen articles were writers say the use of the name makes Native Americans no better than the animals that other teams have for their mascots.

So, just how offensive is this name? How much will changing it impact those that are affected?

It isn’t the same as the “n” word. It is not used in jest. You can call it outdated, but you can also call it a tradition. I can think of more important issues regarding Native Americans to stand up for. How about that they are the reservations that they live on are the poorest counties in the country? That there are little to no opportunities for full-time work for Native Americans? That the a mere 36 percent of males in high-poverty Native American communities are employed year-round with full-time hours? Or, that Native America policy is hardly a priority on the national agenda? And, that Native Americas receive lower funding than the general population for all federally administered services? How is it that Native Americans are neglected on all these major issues but whether the community may be offended by a football team’s name gets national coverage?
Congress is on the right community but their priorities on what the Native Americans actually need is so far off.
Leave the name alone-fight for something more important.