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MEDIA WATCHDOG: “Redskins”, an Embarrassment That Must Go

Street Talk MEDIA WATCHDOG: “Redskins”, an Embarrassment That Must Go

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Years from now we’ll look back on the Washington Redskins name and wonder how we ever let it stick around so long. It’s an embarrassing, racial slur that should have been changed a long time ago. Our kids and grandkids will laugh at us for ever even thinking it was acceptable.

Don’t give me your crap about “tradition” and “franchise history” for keeping the name. You know what else was traditional at one time in our culture? Slavery and not allowing women basic human rights. The only reason more people aren’t outraged by the slur “Redskins” is because they have become accustomed to it. When you switch out that slander with something similar for another race or ethnicity then you understand just how outrageous it truly is.

The only thing that could possibly be more embarrassing than the insulting “Redskins” is the team’s handling of the controversy. Dan Snyder has dug his heels in the ground and is doing everything in his power to stand tall for what he believes to be a perfectly acceptable team name. Snyder’s management of this increasingly hostile situation has made his franchise look even worse than it already does for having a name that demeans an entire culture of people.

On Thursday, the Washington Professional Football Franchise shared a recent study conducted by the national polling firm Public Policy Polling that revealed that 71 percent of Americans do not support the Redskins changing their name.

“This poll, along with the poll taken among Native Americans by the Annenberg Institute, demonstrates continued, widespread and deep opposition to the Redskins changing our name. The results of this poll are solidly in line with the message we have heard from fans and Native Americans for months – our name represents a tradition, passion and heritage that honors Native Americans. We respect the point of view of the small number of people who seek a name change, but it is important to recognize very few people agree with the case they are making.

“We are proud of the support our name has across the nation and we will continue to do everything we can to honor the great heritage that our name represents.”

The Florida State Seminoles honor the tradition, passion and heritage of Native Americans by annually crowning a Chief and Princess at their homecoming games. They display the legacy of the Seminole tribe when Osceola rides his horse, Renegade, prior to kickoff. The university and tribe officials have agreed on authentic, dignified traditions at Seminoles games.

What do the “Redskins” do?

Maybe they think their cross dressing pig mascots honor Native Americans sufficiently.

Over the years, the Chicago Blackhawks have similarly come under fire for their nickname, a much less offensive use of a Native American mascot. Still though, using a human being as a character in sport is wrong. The team has never publicly taken a stance on a name change and seems to skate (pardon the bad pun) by the controversy. Had Dan Snyder’s franchise utilized a similar tactic, perhaps they too would keep themselves out of the headlines. They have enough to worry about on the field as it is.

This whole story is a lesson in poor public relations. Take it from the Ravens, a team that convinced its fan base that removing their publicly open training camp to practice behind closed doors at their facility in Owings Mills was a decision made to better the team. It’s all about how you spin it.

As someone that is eager to see the “Redskins” become the “Bravehearts”, or some other name, I hope the franchise in D.C. continues to resist the inevitable. In doing so, the name change will come even more swiftly.

Do you think the Washington Redskins should change their name and mascot?

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Michael O'Nair

About Michael O'Nair

The Media Watchdog has been lurking, observing the local and national sports media for quite some time. He’s connected, in it and clandestine. Like Batman is to Bruce Wayne, the Media Watchdog is to Michael O’Nair. More from Michael O'Nair


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