Some Fans Still Find the Name ‘Redskins’ Offensive
Lately, the scrimmage engaging the Washington Redskins is not so much a fight for yardage, or team wins or the road to a coveted Super bowl championship. Instead, it’s a clash between the owner of the team, Dan Snyder, and the scores of American fans who consider the team name offensive and think it’s time for the franchise to change.
Protests began in January 1988 after the team won Super Bowl XXII and scores of Native Americans wrote letters to then-owner Jack Kent Cooke to persuade him to change the team name. The protests continued beyond the letters: A group called the Concerned American Indian Parents created posters depicting the fabricated teams “San Diego Caucasians,” “Pittsburg Negroes,” and “Kansas City Jews,” in an attempt to show how offensive “Redskins” could be to the ethnic group. According to an article in the Washington Post, Cooke refused to change the name, saying, “I like the name, and it’s not a derogatory name.”
Like Cooke, Snyder is adamant about keeping the Redskins name for his team. He has said that it has sentimental value and means too much to fans to change. “I think that the Redskins fans understand the great tradition and what it’s all about and what it means,” Snyder said, according to USA Today Sports.
Adding more fuel to the fire is the recent decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the Redskins’ trademark registration. The ruling doesn’t mean that the team has to change the name, but it does support the notion that the team name is disparaging. However, Robert Raskopf, a trademark attorney for the team, told the Wall Street Journal that the ruling, “will have no effect at all on the team’s ownership of and right to use the Redskin’s name and logo.”
The Redskins launched a Twitter campaign to garner support of the name, tweeting, “@SenatorReid, to show your #Redskins pride and tell him what the team means to you.” Sen. Harry Reid has refused to attend the games until the name is changed.
But what began as the Redskins’ call for support exploded in an onslaught of protesters’ comments. Some users responded with tweets that showed their disgust for the name:
“Like the team, hate the racist name.”
“A symbol of overt racism? Not proud.”
Another post drew attention to an article about a mass execution of Native Americans. In it, there is a reference to “Red-skins.”
“No redskin pride here,” Dani @xodanix3 tweeted.
Among those in protest are members of the National Congress of American Indians. Ray Halbritter, representative of the Oneida Indian Nation is one of the most vocal opponents against the team name, referring to it in a letter to league executives as a “dictionary-defined racial slur.”
There are many who don’t think there should be so much attention on the name, such as Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. Although he didn’t give an opinion on whether he thought the name is offensive, he explained on Washington D.C. Sports radio station 106.7 The Fan, that while he is sympathetic to the concerns of the Native Americans, he believes that members of the ball club should focus more on the obstacles the team has to face on the field than on the team name.