Charlotte Observer to Stop Using Redskins Name


The Charlotte Observer has come out with a policy of not using the mascot name of the Washington Redskins in their sports material. The only exception is if the article pertains to the name itself. This is a brave move by the paper, because the Redskins were the televised NFL team in Charlotte in the days before the Panthers and there are still a large number of Washington fans in the area.

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  • So what is behind the choice? The Observer named several reasons. They cited that dictionaries label the term offensive. The noted the US Patent Office canceled the trademark because the term was disparaging. They also cited Native American support for a name change.

    The Redskins name situation is a bit of a head versus heart thing. Redskins supporters point to the tradition of the franchise, which basically means they have always cheered for the Redskins and they are used to it. They saw three Super Bowl rings under three different quarterbacks. They recited “Hail to the Redskins” constantly. It’s familiar, in that the team seems like family. Now somebody is trying to change the family.

    The problem is that the tradition will not go away if the Redskins name does. Those teams of the past, for better or worse, will still be Redskins. The Washington Wizards, once the Washington Bullets, still claim the Bullets’ sole NBA title. No one pretends that the ‘Wizards’ won that title. The Wizards, by the way, changed their name because ‘Bullets’ brought up violent overtones.

    Oct 13, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    The rest of the case for keeping the Redskins name comes down to Dan Snyder getting to do with his business what he wants. Which is fine, as long as he stays in business. Business, after all, is why the Redskins have their name in the first place. The franchise started in Boston as the Boston Braves, because the owner wanted to have a connection to the baseball team. When the Braves left Boston, the football team moved in with the Boston Red Sox. Too become easier to associate with the Red Sox, they became the Boston Redskins. Later they moved to Washington.

    Since the Redskins name was a business decision, it will take a business decision to change it. Either Washington fans or players will have to boycott or someone will have to make it worth Dan Snyder’s while to change the name. Snyder has made noises about wanting a new stadium near old RFK in Washington itself. Could he be willing to barter the name for the new stadium?

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  • The head element is of course the knowledge that the name Redskins drags up years of unfair treatment for Native Americans. This is not an assumption, we know this. The Redskins even have stepped up their support of reservations to try to win the approval of the tribes. Like Donald Sterling winning a Lifetime Achievement Award from the NAACP, it doesn’t make it right. Giving money to the NAACP did not make Sterling seem any less racist.

    Are people not going to watch the Washington Warriors or the Washington Americans or the Washington Monuments after a name change? Unlike the Charlotte Bobcats, who were brand new when they were ignored, the Washington franchise has not gone anywhere. Do Bullets fans boycott the Wizards because they wear the colors but not the name of the former team? I think that football will prevail. Right now it is pretty sure thing that people will watch football.

    Don’t worry Redskins fans, we’ll always have NFL Films.

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