By Bruce Penton
No clearer evidence that money talks came recently when the owner of the Washington Redskins said he would undertake a “thorough review” of the team’s nickname. In essence, a name change for the National Football League team is imminent.
Through the years, Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder has strongly resisted calls from the politically correct and racially sensitive segments of society to rid the franchise of the name which, as a New York Times story said, “recalls a violent ritual of taking human bodies as trophies.”
The website dictionary.com says ‘redskins’ means “a contemptuous term used to refer to a North American Indian.”
Snyder constantly fought back against critics of the name, saying in 2013 he would NEVER change it, telling the lnterviewing USA Today reporter to use all capitals in his story for emphasis.
Well, ‘never’ apparently didn’t last very long.
If embarrassment about having a racial slur for a team name wasn’t motivation enough for change, financial threats from giant corporations Nike and FedEx seemed to have done the trick. Nike said it would eliminate Redskins-logoed gear from its shops and online selling sites, and FedEx, whose CEO is a minority ownership partner of the team and whose company has naming rights at the Washington stadium, said it was time for a new name. The implication, of course, was that FedEx and its millions might disappear if Snyder didn’t co-operate.
Many media outlets have been refusing to use the name ‘Redskins’ for the past couple of years, given its inappropriateness. Hardliners who view the pressure to change the name a result of political correctness (along the same lines as the removal of Confederate flags from NASCAR race sites and the dismantling of statues of figures whose shady pasts are just now coming to light) are fighting what they view as capitulating to the liberal elite.
But on the same day as the Redskins name controversy hit the media, owners of the Cleveland Indians announced that they would be undertaking a similar name review. In Canada, the name question came up in the case of the Edmonton Eskimos, and team management promised a review in consultation with Inuit representatives.
Word out of Washington is that the process of changing the team name won’t take long – ‘Warriors seems to be the favourite – and that it could actually take effect before the 2020 season begins. Considering it’s been 28 years since their last Super Bowl title, it’s not as if ‘Redskins’ has been a lucky name. A new moniker just might be the start of a redirection the team needs.