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By DYLAN MALONE
I knew this would get enough steam eventually.
The NFL professional team in Washington officially has the world’s attention with their name “Redskins” and a movement has been brought forth to change it.
This is something I’ve tried to keep an eye on for some time and the gauge for which I analyze this particular case may be a little different than other cases similar to this one.
First of all, names in general have different meanings to people and generations. While the term “Yankees” seems to be a derogatory jab at people fro the north in Civil War days and beyond, we don’t necessarily have New Yorkers up in arms about it.
Tradition is the simplest answer for that.
The issue of a name change is one that weighs when a name’s offensiveness to enough people simply outweighs the pride involved with having a name for so long.
The team originally started as the Boston Braves (another offensive team name?) in 1932. The next year, the team switched from playing at the baseball field that housed the Braves to Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox. In 1937 they settled in the nation’s capitol and have been a staple there ever since.
There are offensive names that could and should be changed. Our nation has become more sensitive to language (perhaps overly so in most cases) and it has reached our sports teams.
This is not a first, however, not even in Washington. The NBA franchise Bullets were changed to the Wizards by the owner in 1995 because he felt the name brought negative and violent connotations.
That move made sense to me. I can even get past the Redskins because it could be such a simple fix. They would not even have to change the logo at all if they would simply get the backing of a Native American tribe. That’s what the Florida State Seminoles did.
What worries me is the question on everyone’s mind who disagrees with the name change. Where does it end?
Our nation preaches tolerance and with social media and communication globally at an all-time high, things like name changes are topics that catch like wild fires. In fact, Twitter already has this hashtag covered at #namechange.
Enough people will get irate enough to change Washington’s name. There have been plenty of cases where it may not be warranted though.
What about the North Dakota Fighting Sioux? In 2012, the school dropped the “fighting” in the name because a small sect of Native Americans in the school deemed it racist. The supporters of the name claimed it was a point of pride to put fighting before the tribe’s name.
At any rate, now they are the North Dakota Sioux. To me, now they’re just a tribe with nothing to celebrate because of the name change.
Should we change Notre Dame too? There is a leprechaun with his fists up as a logo. Are the Irish offended by this? Don’t laugh, the conversation is coming soon.
Native Americans, or Indians if you allow, are prevelent in sports names across the country. We already hit on some of them like the Braves, Indians, Chiefs, Blackhawks. How long for those? This should hit home, Bellmont fans.
How long until this trickles down to the high school and college levels? Our Silver Arrow tradition at the school where the kids set up a teepee and dress as Indians?!? It seems harmless to us and in many ways it is but there will come a time when someone will complain.
This debate for me isn’t whether we should change Washington’s name but just how far as a country are we willing to go just to be petty.
Will we step in for the atheists who are offended by the Saints or Angels? Even the Devils for that matter. What about the names of teams that have logos or mascots of animals? Will PETA throw a tantrum about some of those someday?
About 80% of names that are considered “risqué” anymore are Native Americans. While a majority of people look to these names as a cultural triumph and symbol of pride, there are a few sects of the country, many not even of Native American descent, who throw their name in the conversation as individuals who preach tolerance.
What else will we change because of this? The state of Oklahoma literally means “Red People”. Let’s change it. The San Diego Padres use a Spanish word. How many are offended? Are thousands of storm victims offended by the Miami Hurricanes name?
Where does it end for us as a culture?