Changing the Name of the Redskins: “The Right Thing To Do“ by Brandon Turner
On Thursday, 7/2 the corporation that owns the naming rights of the Washington Redskin’s stadium through 2025, FedEx, issued a statement in regards to the team’s name: "We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.” This statement was followed by similar pleas by Nike and PepsiCo, spurred by pressure from investment firms and shareholders who command over $600 billion in combined assets. Today Dan Snyder responded that after years of public pressure the team will finally be “reviewing the name.” Tweets from insiders such as Adam Schefter confirms that this is corporate talk for ‘yah we’re changing the name.’
This news produced an outcry from across football by sports starved fans and analysts giving takes in support or against the news. Many of these takes were designed to distract or detract from the issue by putting up arguments, that may or may not have merit, but clearly do not address the issue being discussed. This is because the number one tactic of those who defend the indefensible, is to distract by poking at the sides of an argument rather than confronting the issue at its core. That is not to say that these are conversations without merit. Rather than address whether this is the correct thing to do. detractors turn the argument into another “the world is becoming too PC” discussion. This allows them to bring up minor, ancillary points,that typically aren’t pointed at whether the name should be changed, but they do point to issues we should examine. It IStrue that these changes don’t do anything to improve the lives of Native Americans, who are statistically the most impoverished minority group in America. It also doesn’t change the fact that Native Americans had their land essentially stolen from them, time and again, for the crime of not being as technologically advanced as Europeans, who had the benefit of feeding off the ideas and inventions brought to them from the roman empire before its collapse. Its also important to look at why for years efforts from fans around the league wanting to see a name change for Washington went nowhere, but now that corporations with their billions are involved, Dan Snyder and the Washington front office capitulated in……..*looks at notes* 24 hours.
One point brought up over and over is that changing the name from Redskins would destroy the legacy of the past Redskin’s greats. This is absurd on its face. We’ve seen team after team, move from their city or change their name, and this has done nothing to change the legacy of those players from prior years. Does anyone really lessen the importance of the 1969 Super Bowl, featuring Joe Namath’s famous guarantee versus the Baltimore Colts that helped lead to the afl-nfl merger, because they eventually moved to Indianapolis? Do we really believe that the term ‘redskins’ isn’t derogatory? One of its earliest recorded uses was by author L. Frank Baum, of wizard of oz fame, who was so ecstatic at the news of the slaughter of Sitting Bull at wounded knee that he wrote “With his fall the nobility of the Redskin is extinguished, and what few are left are a pack of whining curs who lick the hand that smites them.”
In a world where information is thrown at us in such a high volume, where your political allegiances are typically decided by your facebook and youtube algorithms, it is important to keep in mind the facts about the decision. When you see takes talking about how so and so knows a Native American who isn’t offended by the name or that these changes don’t actually help improve Native American’s lives, it is important to remember what is specifically being discussed: Should a sports team in 2020 be named after a derogatory term. The answer is obviously no, clearly no, this is not some ineffable truth, or a grand plot to slowly make everyone into PC robots. Nor does it solve the problems that confront the Native Americans, but it does show though that we at least respect them enough to not cheer on a team, based out of our nation’s capital, named after a racial slur denigrating them. It is ok to recognize that and say we can do better. You will wake up tomorrow the same person, the world won’t suddenly become a PC nightmare where you are locked up for accidently dropping an incorrect pronoun or laughing at a racy stand up joke. We can be sports fans with all our adrenaline and love of competition and bawdy humor and recognize when something is wrong and can be improved, this isn’t “virtue signaling.” It’s just doing the right thing, and the right thing to do will always be the right thing to do, and thanks to the pressure of billions of dollars, it looks like Dan Snyder is finally doing the right thing.