Should the Washington Redskins Change Their Name?
It's not the first time the subject has been breached and certainly won't be the last. But, a Washington, D.C. council member is making a push to have the Washington Redskins change the name of their mascot to something that is not a "derogatory, racist name." Thus, another debate has begun regarding the use of references to native Americans as team mascots.
We begin the discussion with a bit of history. The Redskins came into existence in 1932 as the Boston Braves. One year later they became the Boston Redskins, and in 1937 moved to Washington, where they have been known as the Washington Redskins for the past 76 years.
The issue has been raised a number of times in the last 40 years through out the sports world, including the college and high school levels. In 1994, after 40 years as the Warriors, Marquette University changed it's mascot to the Golden Eagles. That same year, the St. John's Redmen, became the Red Storm.
Remember when Stanford University went by the nickname Indians? That changed in 1972 when they became the Cardinals, and later on simply the Cardinal. William & Mary is another school that used the Indian moniker, until changing to the Tribe in the 1990s.
Miami University used the nickname "Redskins" until 1997 when they changed their name to Red Hawks. In 1973 Eastern Washington University changed it's mascot from "Savages" to "Eagles, and there have been several other teams that have changed mascots.
Of course, the NBA has the Golden State Warriors, in baseball we have the Cleveland Indians and the Atlanta Braves, and locally we have the Central High School Warriors, which has it's own bit of controversy surrounding its mascot.
So the question is this. Is using a Native American reference as a team mascot disrespectful and dishonoring to the original Americans?
If , in your opinion, the answer is yes, it could be argued that the exact opposite is true. That using the name Indians, Redskins, or Warriors is actually a tribute and honor to those hard fighting native people, not an intention of disrespect.
It could also be argued that Indian mascots actually disrespect all of the white people who were slaughtered at the hands of native Americans in the 1800's. If anyone should feel disrespected it should be the white people, not the Indians.
Call me insensitive, but I would have to argue that Redskins, Braves, Chiefs, or any other Indian moniker. is not any more disrespectful to native Americans than Cowboys, Vikings, Titans, Patriots, or Packers are to the respective groups of people their name represents. I haven't heard anyone complaining about Green Bay being disrespectful to the workers at the Indiana Packing Company, for which the Packers are named. Whether it's the Tigers, Wildcats, Bulldogs, or Warriors, they are simply mascots - team nicknames that represent the spirit with which they play the game.
I am not a Washington Redskins fan by any means, but they have been the Redskins for nearly a century, and it seems to me it would not be harmful to anyone if they remain the Redskins for another century. And I would say the same about any other team that may call itself Indians, Braves, Chiefs, or Warriors. Indians are as much a part of our American heritage as the Cowboys, Patriots, or (University of Denver) Pioneers, and should be honored as such.