Should sports teams with names considered to be “racist” or “offensive” be forced to change those names?
Teams like the Washington Redskins, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Chiefs, and college football’s Fighting Irish of Notre Dame are among those hearing arguments that their names are offensive, racist, politically incorrect and should be changed. (If you’re wondering why the Florida State Seminoles appear to be immune from this issue, the NCAA and the college struck a deal with tribal leaders back in 2005.)
The NFL seems to find itself in the middle of this recurring controversy again. First, a little recent history on the name issue.
Back in June of this year, NFL commissioner Roger Goddell received a letter from ten members of the Congressional Native American Caucus calling the Washington Redskins team name “offensive.” The letter stated:
“Native Americans throughout the country consider the ‘R-word’ a racial, derogatory slur akin to the ‘N-word’ among African Americans or the ‘W-word’ among Latinos.”
The group went on to tell the commissioner, “In this day and age, it is imperative that you uphold your moral responsibility to disavow the usage of racial slurs.”
A copy of the letter was also sent to all of the NFL team owners. Goddell responded to the Congressional caucus with a letter of his own, calling the team name name a, “unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.” Perhaps Roger Goddell was reflecting the opinion of a majority of Americans who were polled by the Associated Press in May and voted overwhelmingly (79%) in support of the Redskins name.
DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is not fond of the Redskins name and has stopped using it. In late April she appeared on the local ABC affiliate talking about the controversy:
Shortly after Holmes-Norton’s appearance, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder told USA Today that he was intractable when comes to the name of his team, saying, ”We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.” Snyder’s statement was in response to a trademark lawsuit brought by a Native American woman named Amanda Blackhorse.
While it appears that the Redskins owner seems to be completely unbending on the topic of his team’s name, some in the media and the NFL commissioner appear to be shifting positions on the topic.
Just over a week ago, Sports Illustrated writer Peter King announced that he would no longer use the name “Redskins.”
On Wednesday of this week, Commissioner Goddell appeared on a DC-area sports talk radio show and the conversation shifted to the ongoing controversy about the word “Redskins.” This time, Goddell appears to have changed his tune on the topic of the Redskins and racism:
“I know the team name is part of their history and tradition, and that’s something that’s important to the Redskins fans. I think what we have to do though is we have to listen. If one person is offended, we have to listen.”
Listen to the segment from CBS Radio’s 106.7 The Fan with Lavar Arrington and Chad Dukes:
Is Goddell just placating the few voices currently arguing that the DC football team’s name is racist or is there he signaling a change in the league’s opinion?
There is a bill currently working its way through the House of Representatives that could force the league to make a change. H.R. 1278 is known as the Non-Disparagement of Native American Persons or Peoples in Trademark Registration Act of 2013. The bill’s sponsor is Democrat Eni Faleomavaega of American Samoa. The bill was introduced in March of this year and has been referred to committee.
Where you you stand on the issue? We invite you to participate in TheBlaze poll below as well as the comments section.
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