Big ’Skins Watch news yesterday, as The Washington Post, whose editorial board has been a longtime supporter of the “change the name” movement, rolled out the results of a new nationwide poll showing that an overwhelming majority of Native Americans have no problem with “Redskins” as a team name.
As you might expect, I received a lot of emails and tweets yesterday asking what I think of the poll results. As you might also expect, I do indeed have quite a few thoughts on the matter, which I’d like to share. Unfortunately, I was busy yesterday with ESPN work and some other stuff, and then I had to attend a friend’s birthday party in the evening, and today I’m going out to Long Island to see my mom, so I simply haven’t had time to address this. But I’ll get to it next week, promise.
In the meantime, I strongly, strongly suggest that anyone interested in this issue take some time to digest the Post’s entire package, which consists of four components. I read them myself in the following order, and I recommend that you do the same (note that the Post has a 10-article-per-month limit for non-subscribers; if you max out, however, you can keep getting access to 10 additional articles by switching to another browser, and then another, etc.):
• The actual poll data — i.e., the questions that were asked and the percentage breakdowns of the responses — is here.
• The Post’s front-page news report on the poll results is here.
• The Post did follow-up interviews with many Native Americans who participated in the poll. Quotes from 12 of them are here.
• Post sports columnist Dan Steinberg (who has covered the team name controversy pretty extensively over the years but has not, to my knowledge, staked out a position on it himself) wrote a thoughtful analysis of the poll results, which is here.
Given the Post editorial board’s longstanding position on this issue, I expect they’ll be publishing a new editorial about the poll results soon. As of now, however, they haven’t yet done so. If and when they do, I’ll link to it.
Team owner Daniel Snyder, who has been adamant about retaining the franchise’s name, is trumpeting the poll results as a complete validation of his position. Judging by much of the reaction I saw yesterday, many “keep the name” fans feel similarly, with many of them saying the issue is now resolved.
It probably won’t surprise you to hear that I think the situation is considerably more complex and nuanced than that. But I fully acknowledge that the poll results are powerful, and that they call certain aspects of my position into question. I’ll be rethinking those aspects accordingly.
Feel free to comment on this, but please-please-please take the time to read at least the first three components of the Post package before commenting, so we can have an informed discussion based on the actual facts and figures, not based on emotions or preconceived notions. Thanks.
Like I said, I’m spending the day with my mom, so I won’t be commenting on this myself. Try to play nice while I’m away. If you can’t play nice, at least try to save it until next week, when I present my thoughts about the poll. You can go full-throttle then.
Friday Flashback: It’s only been three years since the Warriors introduced the NBA’s first sleeved jerseys. Feels like it’s been longer than that, doesn’t it? My latest Friday Flashback column on ESPN takes a look at how what began as a one-team experiment has grown into a league-wide blitz. Check it out here.
To those of you who responded to my recent call for pro-sleeves commentary: I had hoped to include your voices in today’s Flashback column but ran out of room. Your feedback was interesting, though, and I plan to feature it here on the blog shortly. My thanks to everyone who contributed.
By Mike Chamernik
Baseball News: The Rays and Giants will throw back to the 1970s on June 18. The Rays will again wear fauxbacks, since the team didn’t exist until 1998 (from Phil). … Mets P Bartolo Colon filed a trademark for his Big Sexy nickname. I don’t know how trademarks work, but I do know that many others, including pro wrestler Kevin Nash and former NBA center Kurt Thomas, have had the same nickname. … Couple items from Andrew Cosentino: The Orioles made some clever Get Out of Work/School Free cards to promote yesterday’s day game. The O’s will give away these flag-themed shirts for Memorial Day. And, here’s a Virginia Tech softball uni concept that Andrew digs. … Lots of good photos here of the Phillies’ all-burgundy Saturday Night Special game in 1979. … A soon-to-be-open Fort Worth BBQ joint is selling Rangers-themed “Rougned eats free” shirts. The restaurant will also give Rougned Odor free food for punching out the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista last weekend (from Max Weintraub). … Yesterday we wondered why David Price has two dates stitched on his glove. He has them to honor two friends, Tyler Morrissey and Nathan Stephen, who died. That article is from 2010, and Price is quoted as saying that he has his friends’ names on his glove. I couldn’t find any game photos of that (this was the only Rays pic I could find), but this site purports that he wore a glove with “Live like Nate” on it in 2009 (from AdÃ¡n Encinas). … The Reading Fightin Phils will wear Chewbacca jerseys in June (from our own Fightin Phil). … The Mariners continue to struggle with the letterspacing of their NOBs of their blue alts. Those little serifs throw off everything. … Cool late-1970s/early-1980s MLB wallpaper (from Burrill Strong). … Arkansas P Anthony Dahl had a lot of air bubbles in his jersey number last night (from Dustin Semore). … There’s an online vote taking place to crown MLB’s best jersey. … The Texas Rangers are announcing plans for a new retractable-roof stadium. Their current stadium, the Ballpark at Arlington, opened in 1994 (from Brinke).
NFL News: The NFL will be returning the $723K they made from taxpayer-paid military tributes. The funds will go back to the government treasury. … Yesterday we noted that Ken Anderson wore a gray facemask while his teammates had black ones. It looks like Anderson stuck with the same facemask over the years and would just paint it black. According to the Gridiron Uniform Database, the Bengals wore gray facemasks until 1979 before switching to black. Anderson played for Cincinnati from 1971 to 1986.
College Football News: Talk about a full facemask. That’s Nebraska’s Bob Broadstone in 1928 (from Brett Baker). … Our (un)official Knockoff Football Merch Spain Correspondent Jonathan Sluss found this Michigan “State” shirt. I mentioned earlier this week that Jon found a chintzy Seahawks jersey as well.
Hockey News: The Panthers’ new logo leaked a while back, but it will be officially unveiled, along with new uniforms, on June 2. … We’ve all seen FNOBs, but here’s something new: a hyphenated FNOB (from David Firestone).
Soccer News: Apparel manufacturer Le Coq Sportif introduced new jerseys for ACF Fiorentina and Saint-Etienne (from Chris Cruz). … New jersey fonts for English Football League (EFL) teams next year (from George Chilvers). … A teenager in a full England kit interrupted the English national team’s open practice the other day.
Grab Bag: Navy lacrosse will wear these gloves on Saturday for its NCAA Quarterfinal game against Brown. “Note the Marine Corps logo on the cuff,” writes Kevin Mueller. “It’s not clear if they all get it, or if that’s only for the Midshipmen who are going the Marine Corps route.” … New car design for NHRA funny car driver John Force (from David Firestone).
Proofreading: “The NFL will returning the $723K they made”
“The Panthers’ new logo leaked while back”
“Marine Corp” (twice) should be Corps
I’ve seen a very similar design to the O’s Memorial Day t-shirt advertised on social media…it’d be pretty funny if an MLB stole an unlicensed design!
The Friday Flashback is up:
Read everything back and forth a few times. I’ll admit I’m a Skins fan. I also am not either Pro or Anti name change. I was fine with the idea that the name would go away at some point. Actually preferred no replacement name. Just “Washington” Or “The Washington Football Club”.
Anyway, I read the articles and quotes and come away with a few thoughts.
1. Some Native Americans aren’t identifying with those who are registered with a Tribe and/or feel that the focus is in the wrong place. The example that stood out was “Let’s start taking care of our people and quit worrying about names like Washington Redskins”. Ms. Harjo said “I don’t accept self-identification. People say they’re native, and they are not native, for all sorts of reasons,”. I think that’s a dangerous stance to take by being the judge on who gets to claim they are Native American.
2. People like Bob Costas, Peter King and Mike Wise have actually hurt this movement. Maybe Native Americans don’t want middle-aged/older white guys telling them what they should be offended over. It kind of connects to the comment above. If Ms. Harjo only recognizes people who are registered in some way with a specific tribe and that’s somewhat resented by Native Americans who aren’t registered. The white guys being louder probably is more offensive to them than the name.
3. In Another WaPo article, Mike Wise said “To me, this has never been a Native American issue. You don’t have to be Native American to be offended. I don’t like hearing the n-word even though some people in the African American community aren’t offended by it.” – Well. I don’t know where to go with that. So, it’s now about him being offended. Never Native Americans? Not sure he’s telling the truth there. If he offended by the Tomahawk Chop? Is he offended by a kid dressing up as a Seminole with a flaming spear and horse? Do we care if he’s offended by those because he’s not a Seminole?
4. Maybe this explains why there hasn’t been a poll of these people released by the pro-name change folks in over a decade. They aren’t seeing the results they want. Only when they get very specific with those who register with a Tribe or attend certain meetings. No doubt if they have numbers supporting their claim, they would be published.
5. 9 out of 10 is significant, even with this sample size. If they doubled the poll audience, do we think it would change that much? Tripled? Maybe a majority of Native Americans see this as a non-issue. If the name changed tomorrow, that doesn’t help put their kids in college, help them get the proper training for a better job, help them get the healthcare they might not have. Sounds like they are saying Ms. Harjo and Blackhorse don’t represent them. Not the other way around.
Change the name. Don’t change the name. Whatever. Just don’t dismiss these people who say this isn’t a concern of theirs. They are now being labeled as the enemy.
As another ‘Skins fan who doesn’t care one way or another about the name, I just ask that they don’t change the team colors!!
This issue goes back to the reality of white people in the media and on the internet espousing their political opinion, while we very rarely hear from Native Americans on this issue. The topic of imagery can easily be expanded to include everything.
Anyone who was born in America is by definition native American. Semantics, I know, but the meaninglessness of that term has always bugged me.
I use the term “American Indian” or, if the situation allows, preferably the “(specific name) Nation.” If “American Indian” was acceptable to Russell Means (RIP), it’s good enough for me.
That’s what I do. I refer to them as Comanche or Caddo I or whatever tribe they are. I have been told the term Indian is offensive to some.More so than redskin. The Comanche I know actually appreciate you asking the tribe they belong to.
Set your browser to not accept cookies and then read all the newspaper articles you want, voila.
or just delete the cookies when it says you’ve hit your limit.
WaPo story also doesn’t dig into the larger issue of native imagery. I’d be curious to see the numbers on wahoo or Noc-a-homa, or fans wearing Redface to games.
Actually, Native imagery in general is addressed in the poll, and redface specifically is addressed in the news story.
Again: Please read the content before commenting. Thanks.
Regarding the Mariners’ spacing problems, it’d be less of a problem if they didn’t insist on having double-outlined letters. It’s those outlines that are inflating the serifs and making the spacing look bad.
They could also go to a less ridiculous looking font.
I have been on the fence on this issue for a long time. Not devastated if the “Redskins” become the “warriors” or “Filibusterers,” or whatever. But I’m also not [entirely] convinced by the pro-name-change lobby. This might push me over to the “keep the name” side, at least for the time being.
A few thoughts:
1) I agree with AE’s first two points above. First, Ms. Harjo and other plaintiffs saying they speak for the “true” Native Americans isn’t satisfying. As a Christian, I don’t appreciate when radical groups like WBC declare what “real” Christians believe, excluding all who fail to fall in line. Heck, as a voter, I don’t appreciate being pigeon-holed on EVERY issue just because I have a certain party affiliation. I agree on some things. On others I don’t. People who take it upon themselves to declare who is “in” and who is “out” because of their level of agreement/disagreement should be viewed with skepticism.
2) It definitely feels like white colonial guilt rearing its ugly head again. A group of mostly white politicians and people of influence are trying to tell an entire population what should or should not offend them, regardless of what those people actually say on the matter.
3) Overstatement alert: The reality is that everyone could be offended by everything. Granted, there is no set threshold for “wow, we really need to pay attention to this,” or “wow, we really need to drop this fight.” But at what point does the minority get treated like a minority and lose the vote? Does it just take a vocal few to change things? Surely the “Goose isn’t really dead” group on facebook is offended by the Jets. What happens when performers in Las Vegas magic acts start saying it is disturbing to see Tigers so insensitively glorified (especially when they wear white on the road). Are other religious groups outside of the catholic church going to contest the name “Saints?”
I know I’m overstating it, but it feels like these polls have shown that the driving force behind this movement is a very vocal, but very outnumbered minority.
Interested to hear what people think on this. I’ve always been very much on the fence.
As for “saints,” the Mormon church has some interest; it’s full name is, after all, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.”
For that matter, “saints” are not limited to Catholic Christians. All Christians believe in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, which mentions “the communion of saints.”
Actually, the phrase “the communion of saints” is found in the Apostles’ Creed, not the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed is more universally accepted than the Apostles’ Creed, but to say “All Christians believe in” it is probably a stretch. After all, a dispute over the “Filioque clause” in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed played a major part in the Great Schism between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. As to the Apostles’ Creed (which actually includes the phrase “the communion of the saints”), it is not considered authoritative by all Christian churches, and there are multiple variations of the creed. The phrase “he descended into hell” is especially controversial. The doctrine of the communion of saints also means different things to different churches. That said, I believe most Christians believe in “saints”, but there is a wide variety of definitions of the term.
DJ and Special K, I just love that this is where the conversation went :) I acknowledge “saints” is a term used in multiple denominations and multiple ways. But as a theology student I love that this little tangent occurred on a sports uniforms blog. This is why I love UniWatch!
Denoms!!! As in denominations! Not demons. Lol.
I did think of the whole Westboro thing and how they don’t represent an entire religion. But that’s just too extreme to compare to Ms. Harjo and Ms. Blackhorse. They are not bad people like those folks are.
People are going to go back and forth. Some are going to say “Look what it meant when used here 150 years ago” and somebody else will say “The word Oklahoma literally translates into “red people”. So, you had Choctaw identifying themselves as that. But, you’ll have a “we’re not your mascot” which is totally fair and the most valid argument I can see. There are no Vikings left in the world, pillaging or killing or whatever. There are no more Spartans. But then you’d still need to have a problem with the Braves and Blackhawks and Seminoles because it’s about being a mascot and not being racist.
End of the day, they aren’t the Blackskins or Yellowskins or Blueskins. I can’t imagine picking a nickname for a team because you want to insult a certain group.
Again, this poll is very telling. There clearly isn’t an agreement within Native Americans, but there is a majority opinion. I think Ms. Harjo and Ms. Blackhorse are having more trouble explaining to self-identified Native Americans why they feel it’s racist, than they are other people.
I definitely didn’t mean to attack her character, or compare it to that of WBC. I did, however, mean to make a connection to the kind of mentality that is evident here (and there to a different degree). That is the mentality that says “if you don’t feel/believe like I feel/believe, then you’re not a genuine ______ like I am.”
It is clear that there is a portion of the Native American populace who feel deeply insulted by this, but that is also clearly a minority. Those leading the movement to say that those people’s opinions don’t count because they contradict your own is a slippery slope.
Everyone supports freedom of speech until someone says something they disagree with.
I get it, and no worries.
I think what she is doing here is alienating herself even more from the people she claims to represent. If you aren’t registered with a specific tribe. Then you aren’t a real NA in her eyes.
That’s her right to do. But why aren’t these people registered? What is the value to them? Do they get a vote in tribal matters? Do they have to pay dues or something? Maybe they just don’t see the point of being associated with the folks who are running these Tribes anymore.
Regarding the Redskins name – I have thought for some time that it should be changed. The poll results do make me rethink my position to a degree. But inevitiably I end up concluding that if George Preston Marshall had named the team the ‘Blackskins’ (which given his refusal to sign African-American players until the 1960s is pretty darn unlikely) the team name would almost certainly have been changed long ago. For that reason, I still feel the name is misguided and that a new name is appropriate.
That’s what it comes down to for me. Blackskins would not be acceptable. Yellowskins surely wouldn’t be either. And if you wear a Caucasians shirt you’ll be asked to cover it up. Redskins is no different.
I don’t know, the following ethic-related names still exist without any real controversy:
– Fighting Irish (Notre Dame is not an Irish school, BTW)
– Yankees (being in NC, I hear this used as a slur more than any other team name)
The Yankees name is interesting. Being from CT, I never found that term to be offensive. If anything, it’s almost a compliment.
I also wonder if someone’s Yankee “status” can change. If they are born in NY but move to Georgia at a young age and live there their whole lives, are they still a Yankee?
Many years ago when I was training a class in the South one of the participants told me I was ‘Ok for a Yankee’. It’s always stuck with me as being a sort of backhanded compliment. It didn’t bother me at all, in fact I though it was sort of silly to even call someone that. But it did stick with me.
Yes, down here being referred to as a Yankee can absolutely be derogatory.An English co worker referee to a more red neck fellow as a yank and the red neck didn’t take to kindly to that. Mercy no!
Paul has concisely covered that topic before, and I still agree with his take:
from a previous uni-watch column:
If a team name like Indians is bad, what about a team name like Vikings?
That’s apples and oranges. The Vikings were not a victimized class subjected to genocide, theft of their land, etc. The issue here, at least from my perspective, isn’t about ethnic stereotyping; it’s about systematically destroying a culture and then using that culture’s imagery as if it belongs to you, which it doesn’t.
What about the Fighting Irish?
Okay, but if you go down this road, someone’s always gonna find something offensive about any team name or mascot. Where does it stop?
You mean where does doing the right thing stop? Here’s a better question: Where does it start? The hypothetical “Pandora’s Box” argument is a pretty standard way to obstruct social justice (it was used against women who wanted to vote, blacks who wanted civil rights, the Equal Rights Amendment, etc.), but it sidesteps the issue at hand – i.e., whether it’s right for teams to use Native names/imagery.
This quote encapsulates why I’ve been on the fence in this issue for so long. The Pandora’s box (which I do mention I’m my comments below) is clearly not the best argument, as noted here.
On the other hand, if the people we are supposedly offending are making their voices heard that, “hey, we’re not offended,” then maybe we just need to rethink how much thought and energy we’re putting into it.
I doubt (although this would have made an interesting survey question) that many Native Americans would be offended if the team changed its name. And the world would move on. And the name-changers would be pacified, and those against would forget about it with time and get used to the new name. It would be a nice gesture and it would be fine.
But what this data says to me is that we are trying to tell a people group what they ought to be offended by, and to what degree.
The question is not “where does it stop,” but at what point do we say, “your concerns are valid, but it is a drastic minority voice, and so we are going to stay put.”
Here’s another theory I’ve wondered about: perhaps the real motivation behind the mostly white liberal campaigns to do away with Indian names and imagery in sports is a (perhaps subconscious) effort to help us forget that American Indians ever existed? It’s as if we’d rather not be reminded that they were subject to some pretty brutal treatment in the past to say the least.
It’s been noted by at least some current American Indians that if not for sports teams, their culture would probably never get any notice or recognition in mainstream culture at all.
Edmonton Eskimos in CFL exists without much controversy.
None of those teams exist in that center of weirdness, the District of Columbia.
Re: Yankees – I spent a year living in England attending University and the local rugby teams I played with (and against) used Yankee as a derogatory slur. I never heard it in polite company (as one would expect) but on the field it was a favorite insult as soon as I opened my mouth.
Wade Heidt: According to who? I’ve seen plenty of calls for the Edmonton CFL team to change their name, and it being characterised as antiquated, insulting and embarrassing.
I have some Irish Republican friends who would take issue with the Irish being classified as a non victimized group.
When one of my Confederate friends calls me a Yankee, I just smile, wink, and tell them they need to let go of their humiliating loss.
“Why do they call them the Redskins, when they are almost all black?” – Latka Gravas
Much of the time in Canada, Yankees is used a derogatory word generally directed towards all Americans – not just those in the north parts of the U.S.A.
Great job on yesterday’s blog; enjoyed reading about your trip to Rhode Island. The duck pin bowling lanes looked awesome. Coincidentally I will be partaking in cocked-hat bowling at the Corner Bar in St. Charles, MO next weekend. Enjoy your day with your mom!
My thought on the matter is basically this: it’s been a long time since “Redskin” has been a true racial slur. I could be wrong, but does anybody ever use or hear “Redskins” in any other context than football?
Perhaps most American Indians don’t find the team name bothersome because it’s not something they’re ever being called in a racist context?
1. I am white.
2. Living in Charlotte, this was “Redskins Country” in the decades before the Panthers came along and I was a Redskin fan until I had my own local team to root for.
You do know why you don’t hear the term “redskin” used outside of the context of football, right?
I guess not.
That new Florida Panthers logo is a huge step down from their current one. Why do teams change for the sake of changing so much? It seems more often than not they just throw stuff together without any thought. The new logo looks like it belongs on a Soccer kit.
On the contrary – they spend two years and must get 100 people’s blessing (and make sure nothing offends anyone) and you end up with a boring watered down result.
But.. his main question.. why are they changing? The logo has served the Panthers well for 20 years… Were people on Florida, of any percent, calling for change? It just seems that Florida, and many other teams in sports, change logos often “just because.” Their current logo is perfectly fine, and the revamp doesn’t look like an improvement.
(Yes, I’m sure it comes down to jerseys sale etc… But then you have teams such as the Red Wings, Canadiens, Rangers, etc that do well without changing. Even the Devils, who changed colors, kept the same exact logo.)
If you want to assert that the new one isn’t an improvement on a conceptual level, then you’re arguing against the option of the people who own the team. They like certain things, not others, and the fact is it’s their business and they can run it how they want.
From a purely artistic standpoint, though, the new one is miles better than the old.
opinion, not option.
It would seem that the new Panthers logo is a riff on the US Army’s 101st Airborne division that the team’s owner has links to. It’s more ego-driven / elements of camopandering than any kind of actual drive for change
One quick reaction – it seems shocking that 24% of the respondents would say they have “not at all” heard about the debate. Not that I expect that they are all enamored and engaged with the debate, but I would have figured that 90% or more would have heard at least a bit about it and known that it was an ongoing discussion.
I think it’s a bad idea to take the majority/minority approach to that poll number. OK, so *only* nine percent are offended and *only* 21 percent feel disrespected. I, however, look at it this way: If you offend one of every 10 people you meet, and disrespect one in every five, that’s still a lot of people. If those are your percentages, I think you can qualify as an a-hole in a lot of people’s books.
Furthermore, there’s the sheer matter of right and wrong. Bank of America has over $2 trillion in assets. So if you steal $1 million from them, no one will probably be offended. But it’s still wrong. It’s wrong to take another people’s heritage, turn it into a caricature and sell it, particularly when that heritage also includes a history of being treated like dirt by people who align moreso culturally with the appropriators. The numbers still don’t make it “right.”
On the other hand, it probably wouldn’t be hard to find one person of Irish heritage who is not a fan of a French-American school using a cartoonish leprechaun as their logo or employ a nickname that promoted the stereotype of the drunken, violent Irishman.
Would you agree then that Notre Dame should change their nickname because it’s “wrong” to offend that one person? Would you feel differently if 50% of Irish-Americans found it disrespectful?
Sure, it’s wrong to steal a single dollar from Bank of America, but you wouldn’t consider it nearly as big a deal as if somebody embezzled $100 million…
On the other hand, it probably wouldn’t be hard to find one person of Irish heritage who is not a fan of a French-American school
As an Irish-American, this is one of the most tiresome arguments I hear. I mean, sure, there have historically been a few Irish-American folks who have objected to the “Fighting Irish” nickname. They are silly, wrong, and unrepresentative. What makes this assertion tiresome is the falsehood of the second part. Notre Dame may have a French name, and it may have been founded by a French priest in Indiana. But for more than a century, Notre Dame has been a central institution in the cultural and intellectual life of the Irish-American diaspora. The school is not, and has never been, viewed by Irish-Americans as a “French-American school.” Even today, when Irish-Americans are basically fully assimilated into the heart of America’s cultural, political, religious, intellectual, economic, and other mainstreams, Notre Dame has a special place in the aspirations of Irish-American parents for their children. I know a number of young Irish-Americans who express almost no other feelings of ethnic identity other than embracing St. Patrick’s Day, who rarely if ever attend mass, and yet they still root for Notre Dame sports as a matter of course and speak of Notre Dame as the ideal for their young children’s education, in the way that other parents I know speak of Harvard, Brandeis, or Standord.
Fair enough, but you’re saying that the small percentage of Irish-Americans who object to “Fighting Irish” are “silly, wrong, and unrepresentative” so why wouldn’t you also claim the same about American Indians who object to “Redskins”, since polls show time after time that they are not representative of the majority of American Indians?
The truth is, the campaign to cleanse sports of Indian nicknames and imagery is primarily one created by whites who feel guilty about the past and would like to forget about it.
If a non-Indian is free to have an opinion on the offensiveness of Indian nicknames, then why, as a non-Irishman, am I not free to have an opinion on the Fighting Irish? Maybe I feel guilty about the discrimination Irish-Americans suffered back in the day?
I draw different conclusions about the disappearingly tiny minority of Irish-Americans who object at all to “Fighting Irish” than I do about the much larger minority of Native Americans who object strongly to “Redskins” because the cases are different. The same principles, applied to different sets of facts, should lead to different conclusions.
“Fighting Irish” is not a derogatory nickname or term and it never has been. “Redskin” is and often has been. “Fighting Irish” has been a nickname claimed proudly by Irish-Americans and adopted by Irish-Americans for themselves since at least the 1860s; the Washington Redskins has always been a nickname given by white folks to a team of mainly white folks, and in the popular press and among fans the nickname has given rise to overtly racist imagery and speech quite frequently, not only when the team was run the most infamous racist in the history of American sport – who by the way was the guy who chose the name – but right up to the present day.
Also relevant: History and context. Irish-Americans have never faced anything like the kind of systematic discrimination, ethnic cleansing, and in some instances outright genocide, that some other minorities, including Native Americans, have. My Irish-American ancestors certainly faced some discrimination and hostility in the first generation-and-a-half after arrival. But so has every new immigrant group in this country since about the 1680. The dimly remembered anti-Irish animus that fills family legend among Irish-Americans was actually mainly run-of-the-mill American anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic sentiment. Those “No Irish Need Apply” signs? Didn’t happen here. That was a British thing. But at the time Irish Catholics started showing up on these shores, we had an honest-to-goodness major national political party organized around opposition to immigration and Catholicism.
All of which is to say, the “trials” faced by Irish immigrants before the 1910s amount to the historical equivalent of a long wait at the DMV. The early Irish were immigrants, and they were Catholic, so they got shat on by the Protestant powers-that-be until there were enough of them to make a difference in elections, and then almost instantly Irish-Americans were accorded all the privileges of being English-speaking white folks. Services, the franchise, patronage, entry into all of the professions – nearly instant and full civil and social equality in the first rank of a tiered system.
Native Americans have been treated quite differently, and much worse, over the course of American history. Even today, when a brief period of mild social discomfort is a source of dimly remembered nostalgia for Irish-Americans, Native Americans routinely experience civil and social discrimination, official ghettoization, and active and deliberate exclusion from full and equal participation in American institutions. And that’s today. When my great-grandparents were alive, our government was actively pursuing military campaigns of genocidal extermination against some Native American nations. People I’ve personally met were alive when being considered a “redskin” could get you killed by the government – and when being the person doing the killing could get you a medal for valor.
So even if “Fighting Irish” was derogatory or disrespectful, which it is not, my attitude as an Irish-American would amount to, “So effing what? Say what you want. My people run this country so thoroughly that even the black dude in the White House is part Irish-American. We’re such a big deal in America that every single year, the prime minister of Ireland comes here to celebrate his own country’s national holiday. Sticks and stones, man.”
I’m white and believe my life is easier because I’m white. I got pulled over for a traffic violation the other day and told the officer I was reaching into my console for my insurance card; she asked me why I told her. I told her I wanted her to know exactly where my hand was going and why. She rolled her eyes at me and walked off. There is no part of me that thinks I get that reaction if I look like Ice Cube.
So because of that I find it unseemly for me to complain anything is anti-white. Fighting Irish just doesn’t seem to me to be the slur Redskins is. Irish is a nationality, not a race. Nor is it slang. If you’re from Ireland, you’re Irish. Redskins would be like Blackskins while Fighting Irish could just as well be the Angry French. We all see things through our own eyes and through my eyes, we white people really don’t have a lot to complain about when it comes to matters of race so I’m not offended by Vikings, Irish, etc.
The Fighting Irish is more of a case of people laughing with themselves than putting down another group. The Irish-Catholic kids who attend Notre Dame don’t end up so bad in life when they leave.
Also, for the one of every five and one of every 10 comparisons made above, just how many people would be offended by the Irish name? I’m going to guess it’s far fewer and probably more along the lines of one in 50 or one in 100.
Here’s one aspect of this we should consider: Is Snyder only using the name issue so that the fans will stay loyal and overlook his horrific incompetence?
Think about it: this is the man who single-handedly turned the ‘Skins from one of the NFL’s proudest franchises into a national laughingstock. And this is for reasons that go FAR beyond the name: the Haynesworth contract, forcing the coaches to play RG3 all year, fan-unfriendly policies such as the ban on signs, you name it. And fans are willing to overlook every last bit of the shit he’s put them through… because he’s so indignant about the name.
I also wonder if he will use the name as leverage in getting a tax payer funded stadium. Basically, I’ll change the name if I get a new, shiny stadium.
Snyder still is looked at with a suspicious eye by the Skins fans, as he should be. Fighting till the end to keep the name might be the only thing that keeps enough support. If he’s seen as rejecting a change until the very end. Any eventual change forced by the NFL or something bigger would be more easily accepted than if he just changed it and started trying to sell more shirts/jerseys.
I’ve been a Redskins fan since Sonny Jurgensen was the QB. I’ve loathed Dan Snyder since he took over the team, and I have accepted the fact that, since Snyder and I are roughly the same age, he will own the team for the rest of my life. His steadfast refusal to change the team’s name does nothing to endear him to me, nothing to make up for the Haynesworth, Archuleta, or, most offensively, Deion Sanders acquisitions, and nothing to make up for how he totally botched the RG3 situation. He’s an arrogant ass with very little demonstrable football acumen, and he will always be thus, no matter what the team name is. I doubt that he’s holding the name change as a trump card to force a stadium deal because I don’t think he really needs that leverage.
In short, no – keeping the name doesn’t make me overlook Snyder’s incompetence. I’m loyal to the team for the same reason that most people are loyal to teams like the Clippers or the Cubs or the Buccaneers or any other team that has had an extended period of sucking: because they’re my team, and being a fan means I hold out hope that some day, they’ll be good again.
“Think about it: this is the man who single-handedly turned the ‘Skins from one of the NFL’s proudest franchises into a national laughingstock.”
The Redskins cannot be as much as a laughingstock as the Lions. Ever.
More detailed thoughts. . .
I’m surprised by the apathy toward the term redskin (80% saying they wouldn’t find it offensive to be called that), but coupled with 78% saying that the name is “not too important” or “not at all important” confirms what many of us have long suspected – this movement is primarily driven by non-natives telling natives to be offended. Does that invalidate it? Not entirely. But it does significantly weaken the argument that the football team’s name is a horribly offensive term that must be banished from all public use. The reality is – the non-natives up in arms care about this way more than the so-called victims, but the objections seem louder/more widespread than they really are because some people who raise the objections happen to have a loud platform (i.e., Paul, announcers, elected officials)
Ditto for the fact that 91% of respondents say native american imagery doesn’t bother them much/at all. The arguments of “cultural misappropriation” are being projected onto a group that apparently isn’t bothered by it.
“I just reject the results,” – Well, isn’t that convenient?
“I don’t accept self-identification. People say they’re native, and they are not native, for all sorts of reasons,” she said. “Those of us who are leaders in Indian Country… know who we are representing. We also know if we are representing a minority view. And this is not the case here. Our experience is completely the opposite of the Annenberg poll and this one. I just reject the whole thing.” – Elitist much? Essentially she is trying to claim that “real” Native Americans care about the name and are offended by it and that she doesn’t care what all these other “so-called” Native Americans think. That should be more offensive than any team name.
“Others, including Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and veteran NBC broadcaster Bob Costas, said The Post’s findings would not alter their view that the name is offensive.” – Of course it won’t. And here’s why the debate rages on. Civic leaders who think they know better than the people actually impacted (or apparently, not impacted) by the issue.
My takeaway from the Post’s articles is that the American Indians who took part share a concern the elimination of the Redskins nickname relegates them to being unseen and unheard. (Feel free to differ) But if their identity had strong support from indigenous Americans, and yet was disliked by a wide swath of society, would it make the metrics of this argument any different?
I’m glad members of congress have time and energy to expend on this issue given how well they’re taking care of serious problems.
A Washington team has changed its name before (Bullets to Wizards).
Redskins could switch the name and still maintain much of the identity of the Washington football club. Would be a refreshing rebrand to help merch sales and change the name as many people want.
Could switch to Washington Warriors. The logo could be similar to when the team was wearing the “R” logo on the side of the helmet in the 1970s. Could have a “W” within the circle and the feather hanging down. Same team colours.
The Golden State Warriors might have something to say about that. As for the NBA team’s name switch, I don’t know how that went over (at the time or all these years later); I can only speak for myself and I didn’t like it.
There’s plenty of other teams that share nicknames across major sports: Giants, Jets, Rangers. There’s surely others I’m forgetting. It’s very occasionally confusing but no-one loses any sleep over it.
As for the Bullets/Wizards name change, it was pretty much that people decided that having the basketball team in the city with one of the highest rates of gun crime in the country be called the ‘Bullets’ was a little unseemly.
Changing the DC basketball team’s name because of the gun crime rates was ridiculous. Was there a single person who was inspired to commit a gun crime because the name was Bullets? Was there a single person who would’ve committed a gun crime but then opted instead to perform a magic trick because the team changed its name to Wizards?
I believe Snyder owns/owned a Washington Warriors trademark. But it was mean for an Arena Team that he never bought. Now Leonsis bought one to out in Washington. It’ll probably have a “Monumental” themed name and be Red/White/Blue.
“why did the organization’s newfound interest in supporting Native causes only appear after heightened political pressure? In that sense, has the campaign already been a success?”
I think the most positive outcome of this discussion would be for teams/schools that use Native American imagery to develop a stronger connection to the actual people/culture their team name is based on. I do think that teams use Native imagery out of a sense of respect (no one is going to name their team something they find weak/insignificant/worthy of ridicule), but they should do more to connect themselves to that and really pay homage to the source of their name.
Sorry Bartolo, but Kevin Nash will ALWAYS be Big Sexy. NWO 4ever!
No single opinion poll, no matter how lopsided the results, should ever be treated as dispositive on any question. But assuming that other research were to produce results consistent with the WaPo’s survey, those who oppose the Redskins name for reasons like me will have no reason to alter our opinions. But those who oppose the Redskins name out of concern for “cultural appropriation” or out of a concern for “intellectual property” ought to change, and probably abandon, their objection to the name.
I’m not concerned about anybody being “offended.” I am concerned with propriety, respect, and decency to one’s fellow citizens. Propriety and decency are not subject to majority vote. One has the standards one has or one does not; the fact that someone else, or even a great many someone elses, believes that it’s perfectly OK to pee in public doesn’t make me wrong to believe otherwise. And as for respect, the WaPo results show that about 20% of Native Americans do feel disrespected by the Redskins name. If any foreigner stood up and expressed disrespect for one-fifth of my fellow citizens, those would be darn near fighting words for me. Heck, if any American did that, it would border on fighting words for me. My personal sense of patriotism is such that I object to anyone disrespecting my fellow citizens. So the WaPo survey has little bearing on my opinions on the matter. Basically every Native American could say “meh” to the Redskins question and I’d still be against the name.
However, if the question is one of “ownership” of Native American identity, then the poll results, if confirmed by other studies over time, basically falsify the objection to the team’s use of the name and related imagery. If I own a snow shovel but leave it outside all winter, and if I further do not object when my neighbors use my snowshovel to clear their own driveways without asking me, then they are not stealing my shovel when they use it. Or in terms of intellectual property, if I write something and do not object when others repeat it without my permission, then they are not stealing my work. Property of any kind requires an intent by the owner to control the possession and use of the property. If that element of intent is lacking, then it isn’t really property at all. And the WaPo survey tends to suggest that the element of intent to control is lacking with regard to sports team names and imagery.
“So the WaPo survey has little bearing on my opinions on the matter. Basically every Native American could say “meh” to the Redskins question and I’d still be against the name.”
This kind of statement comes across a little like one has decided what should or should not offend Native Americans. They may not be offended, but you (and I mean the generic “you”, not you personally) are going to be offended on their behalf, because you know better than they do.
Apologies in advance if I’ve interpreted this incorrectly.
This fine comment sums up my feelings on the matter pretty well. I have no interest in telling anyone what they should or should not feel offended by. To me, as a white dude, the name just feels kind of crappy, and a lousy way to treat people, regardless of how they feel about it. Just seems like we can do better.
I wonder what the average age of people polled was. I could see the younger generation as just accepting the name and feeling like its always been there. While the older generation can remember the suffering their grandparents and such had to endure.
There’s also something to be said about people just putting up with it because it’s a losing argument for them. I have someone close to me who is black that said they’ve never been subjected to racism. As time went on it was clear they had–it was just easier to pretend it didn’t bother them or it wasn’t really racism than to acknowledge an insult they have no way of responding to. In context, redskins is plainly a slur but as unlikely as it is to change, why even acknowledge it if you’re Native American?
That’s very much the case with several of the people quoted in the third article linked to; They basically say “why bother caring about this when the owner of the football team is a billionaire and can do what he wants”. It’s not even a question of whether it’s OK to them, it’s a question of futility in the face of overwhelming power and influence, and not beating themselves up over something they have no control over.
It might be kinda sad, but it’s certainly understandable.
I’m not convinced by the polls.
For me, what it comes down to is that you treat people with respect. The Washington nickname, the Cleveland logo, are fundamentally disrespectful. If you’re being disrespectful, here’s the answer: stop being disrespectful. I think that obligation of basic courtesy exists whether or not a majority of the people you’re being disrespectful to are concerned about it. Its a basic human obligation.
The twelve profiles were interesting. Even the people who were most concerned were pretty clear that team nicknames are not their biggest problem. This is consistent with my experience as well – there are serious issues on-reserve in particular with suicide, poverty, lack of clean drinking water, addiction. I’m not surprised that team nicknames are down the list. But its still not an excuse for not treating people with respect.
Two more thoughts:
1. I’m white, and I was born in north america. That doesn’t make me a native american (Canadian in my case). That’s just stupid wordplay.
2. I’m not offended on anybody’s behalf, and I’m not telling anyone that they ought to be more offended than they are. I just think its disrespectful. Disrespect doesn’t require that offence be taken – it just requires shitty behaviour on one person’s part. IMO that’s where we are right now.
I agree that you should treat people respectfully, but the whole debate is about whether the Redskins name is in fact disrespectful.
Personally, I find the Cleveland Indians’ cartoonish, grinning “Chief Wahoo” logo to be more disrespectful than the Redskins’ logo, which seems pretty dignified.
The name “Redskins” itself may have once been used as a racial slur but I’d wager than in a modern context it is not. I’ve never met a person of Indian heritage who has told me they’ve been called a “redskin” nor have I read about it happening.
I agree. I find Cleveland’s mascot way more offensive than what’s on Washington’s helmet.
re: Big Sexy. Dunno whether Big was part of his nickname, but Richie Sexson (DH/OF) certainly went by Sexy, probably with a better claim.
I did a quick search of the register – a clothing company already owns the Big Sexy trademark in the same class of goods, and it is under 8/15 status (which means it is presumptively incontestable after an extended period of continuous use).
I don’t think he is going to get strong protection in the mark. That doesn’t mean it can’t prove valuable though.
That photo of Kenny with the gray facemask can be narrowed to 1981-83 just from info in the image.
1981, first year of Bengal striped helmet.
1983, last year Pete Johnson played with Cincy.
Does anybody recall the very extensive Gallup Poll conducted by Sports Illustrated (I think in 2001) over the Native American nickname issue (not specifically the Redskin nickname? I feel like these results are very much in line with the findings back then. Would love to see a comparison.
Just an FYI, Dan Steinberg has long been on the Change the Name train.
Regarding the Rays-Giants TBC game: Nice jersey, but will the Giants go with the orange sanitary socks?
Predictions for the new Texas Rangers retractable roof stadium:
1) like Jerry World next door, the weather will never be nice enough to open the “retractable” roof.
“Hey, should we open the roof today?”
“Are you kidding? It’s 74 degrees and sunny, nobody should have to endure that.”
2) more luxury boxes means the upper deck will be another 30 yards from the field
3) gotta pay for it somehow, higher taxes for the city and higher prices for the tickets
4) more members and VIP areas mean fewer concessions for “normal” fans. Remember those, the ones who just buy tickets to watch the game? “No sorry, this area is for our season ticket holders only. That next one is for Platinum Sponsors only. To get a hot dog, you’ll need to go back to the parking lot and buy it from a guy with a cart.”
5) there still won’t be mass transit to the game because this is Texas and we have to drive our massive pickups everywhere and park like crap and blame that on the tiny parking spot rather than the SAV (suburban assault vehicle) that won’t fit anywhere.
6) that new stadium will last 15 years before it’s replaced.
Do I sound bitter? I think I sound bitter.
By sticking to your love of vintage uniforms, you can avoid the loathsome circle-jerk that is professional sports.
It will be open as often as the lid in Houston. Lid is closed most of the year due to the oppressive humidity. You’ll see much the same in Dallas.
Hey, Phil, do you think the Lakers need a new identity? If so, then what are your requirements on what it should look like? I personally think that the Lakers should use the Los Angeles script on all of their alternates. Also, as a new member of Uni-Watch, what do you think Nike should do to patch up the looks of each and every team in the league?
56% of the respondents to the poll could not identify which tribe they are. Seriously, and the pollster still counted their vote? If you are truly Native American, you know EXACTLY which tribe, which nation you belong to, whether you’re a descendent or a citizen.
Yes, I identify as Native American. I am a citizen of the St. Regis Mohawk nation. I have known this since for as long as I can. My paternal grandmother was born on the reservation.
Read the post by AE near the top: His Point #1 addresses your position.
I think a lot of the issue boils down to money to be honest. It was deemed OK for FSU to keep the name Seminoles, but the school gives money to help fund the tribe’s school and gives full ride scholarships to members of the tribe. Would the name still be ok if they stopped?
One of the the biggest name change supporters is Ray Halbritter. He’s the CEO of Oneida Nation Enterprises which operates casinos. I’m willing to bet that if the Redskins through enough money at him and his tribe they would rethink their position.
I don’t know about Oneida Nation Enterprises, but I can take a short drive to Foxwoods casino, get a drink from a cocktail waitress dressed in a Pocahontas outfit, head over to Chief’s Deli for a meal, then stop by the Trading Post to get a nicknack with the Wampum Club points I earned while I was losing my shirt in the casino. I guess the imagery is acceptable if they’re the ones cashing in on it.
And then there’s this one from 2014 from Eaton Colorado (called the Eaton Reds, using Native American Imagery)
In a humorous vein, the local radio station suggested a much better name for the team.
That’s a great bookend to the minor league hockey team “Macon Whoopees”.
Just my two cents here. My maternal grandmother was Choctaw. Everyone else white folks. My grandmother never had an issue with Redskins but did think that a better representation of Native Americans or indigenous people could be created and used. That is, get representatives of various tribes together and make some recommendations. Indeed, in New Zealand, there is a rugby side called the Chiefs and they use Maori dress, symbols, etc, but it has been created and approved by the Maori. So has the use of the haka. Probably not stating this as well as I should. Idea is simply to try and do something to truly honor the indigenous people in terms of name and symbology.
If I could add to the recommended reading:
This is from Dr. Adrienne Keene, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, who runs the Native Appropriations blog. I found it insightful.
If the results of a poll don’t suit your narrative, you don’t have much of a reason to believe its findings. Nobody with strong feelings on this issue will be persuaded either way.
And the right to never be offended is exactly where in the Constitution?
Were I a sports team owner I’d ditch things like this. ONLY because I’d get sick unto absolute distraction of middle-age white do-gooders getting up on their high horses and telling me how offensive my team name is.
And, thus, giving these people what they want. The ability to bully and dominate others.
Well then, so on to some other cause to relentlessly hammer at on this site ostensibly devoted to sports uniforms? Gun control? Fair trade? Human trafficking? We all know what the morally correct positions are as to these. Please tell us on a weekly basis where you stand and how righteous you are for standing as so.
While I like the Rays fake throwbacks, I wish they’d do more real throwbacks like they used to. The Tarpons, Saints and Smokers uniforms were beautiful.