WASHINGTON – In response to re-surfacing public pressure to have its mascot name changed, Washington “Redskins” fans are continuing to insist that keeping the team name is more important than sensitivity to centuries-old ethnic struggles endured by U.S. Native Americans.
Several respected print and online publications, including USA Today, Sports Illustrated, and the Washington Post, have recently announced that they will stop using the name out of respect for those who find it to be a racially-offensive term. “Imagine,” the Post’s Editorial Board wrote on September 12, “[Washington team owner] Mr. [Dan] Snyder, or anyone else for that matter, sitting in a room with Native Americans and calling them ‘redskins.’ Not likely.”
However, some consider that very feat to be an American pastime. Back in April of 2013, it was shown in an Associated Press GfK poll that 79% of Americans favor keeping the name. Newslo caught up with former poll-respondent, Sarah Lee – a 36-year-old stay-at-home mom from Osceola, Ind., who argued that the name shouldn’t be changed because “That’s who they’ve been forever,” in addition to the notion that “we as a people make race out to be a bigger issue than it is.”
“Every Sunday after church, I sit down in front of a football game with my family, and we just blast the television with ethnic slurs,” said Lee. “It’s a cathartic…I would almost say a religious experience. And of course it’s worth more to me than the cultural displacement of the Native American ethos.”
David Black, a 38-year-old football fan from Edmond, Okla. argued in that same poll that the name should not be changed because he had never “heard” that the term was offensive. Even though the National Museum of the American Indian director, Kevin Gover, equated usage of the term ‘Redskin’ with the use of the ‘n-word,’ Black continues to argue today: “Look, it is my God-given right under Manifest Destiny to say whatever the hell I want. That includes racial slurs…doesn’t matter whether I’m muttering them under my breath in front of my TV at home, or yelling it with a whole crowd of people at a live game.”
It is the combination of this right and feeling that the team’s owner, Dan Snyder, wishes to protect – literally, under trademark protections, as the Washington franchise has held the trademark on “Redskins” since 1932, and would lose millions of dollars in marketing rights if they were to let go of the name.
“We will never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER – you can use caps.” Snyder had told USA Today in May of 2013. “In fact,” he continued, “definitely use caps, since we’re going to try to brand that word for our retro jerseys.”