With the Redskins currently relying on a couple of polls (one of which is nine years old) in defending their name, it should have been obvious that the issue will now become a battle of differently-worded polls.
Oneida Indian Nation has released a poll that supports, in various ways, a change of the team’s name.
The poll of 500 adults in the Washington, D.C. region found that 59 percent believe Native Americans would have a right to feel offended if called “redskins.”
Also, 55 percent said a name change would not affect their support for the team. Twenty-five percent said it would decrease their support, while 18 percent said a new name would actually increase the support.
In other words, for 73 percent of the respondents, their support for the team post-name change would either be the same or higher.
Redskins outside lawyer/damage control specialist Lanny Davis responded to the poll by saying this to USA Today: “Dan Snyder’s letter said it all. Dan Snyder’s letter states the reason for the name not being changed.”
(Some have criticized the accuracy of Snyder’s letter, which in part reiterates reliance on past polling.)
“You cannot poll morality, and our hope is that Mr. Snyder will demonstrate true leadership and change the offensive name, not because of what any public opinion studies show, but because it’s the right thing to do,” Oneida Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter said in a statement. “However, this polling information is valuable because it shows that the team has nothing to fear economically by changing its name.”
And so both sides remain dug in. The Redskins won’t change the name, Oneida Indian Nation and others want the name to change, and the Redskins are committed to listening to the dissenters — presumably until the dissenters get bored and move on to something else.
It has become, then, a test of resolve. Will the team change the name in the face of mounting pressure, or will those behind the mounting pressure decide to give up and move on?
Even if they do, the issue has reached the point where it will never completely go away. Eventually, the opposition will be strong enough that something will need to be done. Snyder’s best move, from a business standpoint, would be to implement change in a way that extracts concessions toward, say, getting a Super Bowl in D.C. or building a new stadium and that generates some much needed positive P.R. for his team.