Friday, February 15, 2013

Will the Washington "Redskins" Finally Get A New Name?

Dave Zirin wrote an article this week in The Nation entitled "Redskins: The Clock is Now Ticking on Changing the Name."  We have regularly debated the offensiveness of American Indian mascots at the Sports Law Blog, and once again, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder has been called upon to change the team moniker of our nation capital's NFL club.  Zirin's article was inspired by a symposium held in Washington D.C. at the Smithsonian's Museum of American Indian History decrying the use of all American Indian mascots.

According to Zirin:  "It’s an awkward fact of life in Washington, DC, that we are home to both the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and the Washington Redskins. One attempts to preserve the Native American cultures that weren’t eradicated by conquest; the other is both a symbol and result of the same eradication. These two worlds collided this past week when the museum hosted a day-long symposium about Native American sports nicknames. In a packed auditorium, panelists and audience members took the local team to task, calling their name 'ugly,' 'offensive' and 'a racist slur.' Former Colorado Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, the only Native American senator in US history, said from the stage, 'If you want [your mascot] to be a savage—use your own picture.' Not one person either in the audience or the crowd defended the use of 'Redskin,' because, as one fan of the team said to me, 'it really is defending the indefensible.'"

While the NCAA has taken strong action against the use of offensive nicknames and imagery, will Dan Snyder, and other professional sports team owners (including the Braves, Indians, Chiefs, Blackhawks, etc.) finally heed the call for change and eliminate offensive and stereotyping monikers and mascots?