What’s in a Name? Don’t ask Dan Snyder.
October 18, 2013
October 18, 2013
Opposition to the Washington Redskins name and logo is nothing new. But a growing number of critics are calling for an end to the NFL brand, deeming it racist and offensive to Native Americans. To give some perspective on the sentiment of the movement, New York Daily News cartoonist went so far as to equate the logo with the Swastika and the Confederate flag in a piece entitled “Archaic Symbols of Pride and Heritage.”
Not everyone agrees is on board with a change. One of the most vocal opponents to date is the Redskins owner himself Dan Snyder. In an open letter to season ticket holders in The Washington Post, he quotes an Annenberg Public Policy Center poll that concluded that “that 90% of Native Americans did not find the team name ‘Washington Redskins’ to be ‘offensive’” was cited. While that would seem like an incredibly strong argument in favor of the name, it’s important to remember what else that number means. 10% of those polled found that brand offensive. It is a dangerous moral road to go down when that kind of feedback is dismissed, especially in a public entity as the NFL. Granted, the Redskins are currently the fifth most valuable sports franchise in the world so I can’t claim it’s bad for business, but what about down the line? A D.C.-area principal is considering banning team apparel. What if that became the norm?
Snyder also wrote that Native Americans not only tolerate the name, but embrace it; that the name was a symbol of pride. Pieces of Snyder’s letter were specifically called out by multiple Native American groups condemning him for “misrepresentation” and they demanded he revise his letter. I’m not sure they’ll get their way. Snyder made it pretty clear that he's more interested in the legacy of the team than who he may have offended, particularly here:
I respect the opinions of those who disagree. I want them to know that I do hear them, and I will continue to listen and learn. But we cannot ignore our 81 year history, or the strong feelings of most of our fans as well as Native Americans throughout the country. After 81 years, the team name “Redskins” continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come.
We are Redskins Nation and we owe it to our fans and coaches and players, past and present, to preserve that heritage.
His is not the only voice wanting to keep the Redskin brand intact, but he is the most prominent. When I see how Snyder presented his case in the press, I’m inclined to go the opposite road. His intention may have been admirable, but his execution only served to hurt the cause.