As the 2014 regular season begins, another major newspaper has decided to use the nicknames of only 31 of the NFL’s teams.
The Charlotte Observer has opted to stop using the Washington name, with exceptions including stories about the name. Several days ago, the New York Daily News did the same thing.
“We understand that the name is beloved by many, and we respect their affection for it,” Michael Persinger of the Observer explains. “But consensus is growing that a nickname referring to the skin color of a race of people is no longer appropriate.”
The issue continues to polarize, with few still undecided. And there’s no middle ground. One side sees the word as a term of respect, despite it’s meaning when the “R” isn’t capitalized. The other side sees the word as a slur, regardless of how the “R” is written.
One side believes it’s sufficient for some or most Native Americans to not be actually offended. The other side believes it doesn’t matter whether anyone is actually offended, even though some Native Americans — including the National Congress of American Indians — clearly are.
One side thinks that the issue can be addressed by visiting reservations and caring about more practical issues facing Native Americans. The other side sees that as a diversion from the more fundamental point: If you truly care about Native Americans, you won’t refer to them with a name that even one Native American would reasonably regard as an insult.
Either way, the debate will continue until the name changes. And the debate will likely continue long after the name changes — even if owner Daniel Snyder changes it to finagle public financing for a new RFK Stadium in D.C. proper.