Why Change the Name?

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Calder Sell

In 1933, George Marshall decided to change the name of his professional football team. This team now plays its home games in Washington D.C. at FedEx Field. I have chosen not to use the name of this team in this article because I see it as a sign of disrespect.

It’s not offensive

  • N****r (noun): Slang: Extremely Disparaging and Offensive. A contemptuous term used to refer to a black person.
  • C***k (noun): Slang: Extremely Disparaging and Offensive. A contemptuous term used to refer to a Chinese Person
  • R*****n (noun): Older Slang: Disparaging and Offensive. A contemptuous term to refer to a North American Indian.

Definitions provided by Dictionary.com

Are the other words offensive?

It’s about tradition

A similar argument was made for the Confederate Flag. This team’s name in its original form was to describe the scalp of a dead Native American as proof so that the killer could collect the prize. Funny how we don’t focus on that tradition.

Most Native Americans don’t mind the nickname

Many supporters of keeping the team’s name often cite the same polls to back their position. One frequently used poll was conducted in 2004 by the Annenberg Public Policy Center. The study used a random number system to form telephone numbers of households. Out of those households, they found 768 people who self-identified as American Indians or Native Americans. I have several issues with this study. First, the way in which the poll was conducted, through telephones, does not give a good representation. According to Gallup Independent, most living conditions on reservations is “comparable to Third World.”  When a people have been characterized as living in conditions that resemble Third World, communicating via a service that would rarely be found in a Third World environment is probably not the best way to get a solid representation of the interested group. Also, the poll’s requirement was simply that the subjects self-identify as an American Indian or a Native American. So, anyone from the study could have simply stated that they were Native American because they were born in America.

This is such a small problem compared to all of the other problems Native Americans face

True. Daniel Snyder seems to favor this argument in recent months. To put his money where his mouth is, Snyder donated a portion of his wealth to foundations aiding in Native Americans. If Snyder is truly sincere in his hopes to improve Native Americans’ lives, then why is he not addressing the mental torment his precious logo is causing? Could he possibly be handing out donations to help simmer the boiling pot of controversy?

When a group of activists took the issue to a federal court, the judge ordered the cancellation of some of the team’s trademark registrations. The judge correctly saw that the name was disparaging and reached the correct decision. However, the football team has made it very clear that they will exhaust the court of appeals, as they still believe they are doing nothing wrong with the name. This decision means that the franchise will still be able to use and sell merchandise with the current logo they just cannot protect it from others using it as well. The expected loss of money this decision will cause will hopefully force the team to switch names. Though this is a victory for the cause, it does not stop the team from spreading its vulgarity. It merely makes it more difficult for them.