Throughout a tumultuous December, Washington’s NFL team likely was waxing nostalgic for the days when the team’s biggest problem was its ongoing name controversy.
While forgotten during times of organizational dysfunction, the issue remains. As evidenced by the team’s recent decision to characterize a poll that shows increasing opposition to the name as an affirmation of support. And by a recent editorial in the Boston Globe urging change.
“The exploitation, prejudice, stereotyping, and betrayal of Native Americans by the US government and many other Americans is encoded in the term Redskins, however much it has grown to mean something different on the football field,” writes the newspaper in the town where the team was located when it changed its name from Braves.
“A name change wouldn’t be unprecedented, as Washington’s own basketball team morphed from the Bullets to the Wizards in 1997 amid concerns about the city’s soaring murder rate. That was a widely applauded act of civic sensitivity. The same can, and should, happen with the Redskins. Team owner Daniel Snyder, unpopular with many fans, has sought to score points with some Redskins diehards by vowing to never, ever change the name. But Snyder would gain more by showing respect to those who are offended by the name, and opening a new chapter in Washington football history.”
Snyder acknowledges those who are offended, but the team won’t change the name because any offense is unintended.
Ultimately, the name will change. Whether it takes five years or 50 or something in between, the opposition will grow to the point where it can’t be respectfully disregarded. And then for another 50 years after that, those who supported the name will continue to argue that it never should have changed.