Should Washington's Football Team Change Its Name?
Yesterday, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell met with Dan Snyder, the owner of Washington D.C.'s NFL franchise, the Redskins, to discuss the brewing controversy over the name of Snyder's team, which some American Indian groups and a growing number of publications and politicians have said is offensive. After the meeting, Snyder reiterated that he has no plans to change the name. Representatives of the Oneida Nation, which is leading a "Change the Mascot" campaign, are meeting with the league today.
In an open letter written earlier this month, Snyder said, "I respect the opinions of those who disagree. I want them to know that I do hear them, and I will continue to listen and learn. But we cannot ignore our 81 year history, or the strong feelings of most of our fans as well as Native Americans throughout the country. After 81 years, the team name ‘Redskins' continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come."
Earlier this year, a bipartisan group of lawmakers called on the team to change its name, saying that "Native Americans throughout the country consider the term 'redskin' a racial, derogatory slur akin to the 'N-word' among African-Americans or the 'W-word' among Latinos." Both President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have said the team should consider a change.
Last week, the San Francisco Chronicle officially became the latest publication to decide against using the name of Washington's team, joining the Washington City Paper, Slate, the Kansas City Star and several others. A handful of sports columnists, including Sports Illustrated's Peter King, have also decided to no longer use the name.
However, they don't seem to be moving the needle much when it comes to public opinion, as polls consistently show overwhelming support for the team's name. A new poll released this month, though, shows that nearly 60 percent of Americans "say Native Americans have a right to feel offended by the term Redskins."
So should Washington's football team change its name? Here is the Debate Club's take: