The Washington Redskins marching band leads fans in singing the club's "fight song" "Hail to the Redksins."

'A Name Change for the Redskins: Unpopular, Insufficient, and Necessary'

ICTMN Staff
May 21, 2013

Every week TheAtlantic.com Sports Roundtable discusses a hot-button sports topic of the moment. The conversations are engaging, thoughtful and lively. On Friday, the assembled panel took on the issue of the increasingly controversial--or at least discussed--name of owner Daniel Snyder's Washington, D.C. NFL franchise: the Redskins.

The trio, Patrick Hruby (writer, Sports on Earth and The Atlantic), Jake Simpson (writer, The Atlantic), and Hampton Stevens (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic) discuss the debate over whether the NFL's Washington Redskins should change their name. Here are some highlights from the debate.

Hruby: "As a sportswriter, I've typed and said the word Redskins thousands of times....Each and every one of those times, I have never meant or intended anything offensive...Until recently, I can't say I ever even thought about Native Americans while using the moniker. And that, more than anything, is the problem. This is what we think about indigenous people in the United States of America: We don't....The word Redskin is an obvious, self-evident racial slur. It fails the Full Room test, as in: would you walk into a room full of Native Americans and yell, 'Wassup, Redskins?' Of course not. And that makes it wrong—wrong and embarrassing, really—as a team nickname."

Stevens: "Make the Redskins change their name. All you'll be doing is making Dan Snyder pay to assuage your own guilt. But don't pretend that calling for a mascot name change is brave or hard. Don't act like you are truly helping Native Americans, or ever dream that changing the name of a football team could in any way compensate for this nation's sins towards indigenous peoples. That notion is far more insulting than any racially charged team name ever could be."

Simpson: "Across the four major sports there are the MLB's Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves and the NFL's Redskins and Kansas City Chiefs....Just imagine if we had the equivalent team names for, say, black people in Louisiana or Jews in Brooklyn. Snyder and others have argued that Native American titles are OK because of a franchise's proud tradition. But shouldn't the real traditions to worry about be the ones that American frontiersmen obliterated while virtually exterminating the 'redskins' and then naming their team after them?"

Read the entire conversation by clicking here. And share your thoughts about the Sports Roundtable's debate with ICTMN by commenting below.

Related Story:

Snyder: We Will NEVER Drop Redskins Name
 

 

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Comments

Duane Kelly's picture
Duane Kelly
Submitted by Duane Kelly on

A worthy opponent is worthy of a place of honor. To name our favorite sports teams after that opponent is not an act of racism, but putting them in a place of honor. To remove that opponent for the place of honor is in itself an act of racism and hate. If the people of the opponent wish to be removed from such place of honor is also hate. Hate and rejection of the honor bestowed upon them. This is understood of any man of war, as no one that fights in a war against a worthy warrior, has great respect for anyone that has the guts to stand and fight for what they believe. Those that have never fought in such a war will hold the warrior of the opponent in continual contempt with no understanding of the sacrifice both side have made in standing up for what they believe in. To strip the warriors of this honor has nothing to do with caring for the Indians, it is merely a means of propaganda to cause contention in a time of peace. As a descendent of a great warrior that fought for what he believed in and fell in defeat, I am honored that for ancestor is honored nation wide by a people that proudly wear the name Redskin.

David Freestone
Submitted by David Freestone on

I have been a UK Redskins fan for almost 30 years and i have never even thought about it being racist. If people thought it was racist all those years ago when the Redskins franchise began, why didn't they say something about it then, instead of years later when it is supposed to be 'politically correct'.
This is pc gone mad, leave the name alone.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on

I think its awful. I think Chief Wahoo is awful. I think the Tomahawk chop chant is awful. The Chiefs don't get as much attention, but that is bad too. They are all offensive, they should all be changed. I am sure they won't though because of people like many of you who feel we are honored by this. I would like to know who this fellows "Warrior" ancestor was? We had "warriors" in our tribes too, but they were massacred, cut up, heads scalped and sold for 7 dollars. The name will not change because people love their sports teams. I have come to accept that. I have come to accept that white people will keep telling us that they are honoring us for being "brave" or whatever. I will accept that people will blame the world for becoming a bunch of "PC" ninnies that whine about offending Native Americans. I have come to accept all of your reasons for keeping the names, but I still hate it. I have come to accept all of you that claim Native Ancestry so therefore you are some sort of expert. Well accept what I have to say. I think it's all a bunch of crap. It's offensive, it hurts my feelings, it reminds me of when Indians had prices on our heads and they checked to see if the scalp had "redskin". So accept my middle finger douche bags, I have accepted yours!

Danny Littlejohn's picture
Danny Littlejohn
Submitted by Danny Littlejohn on

Mr. Kelly, Your argument is for lack of a better word, idiotic. Just because you and some football franchise claim to be honoring a population of people does not make it so. In my own little way, I have just honored you by calling you an idiot and not an imbecile with no common decency or compassion for other people, now go on about your day and be glad that I honored you, you idiot.

Mr. Freestone, Your argument is absolutely ignorant and foolish. By your argument, just because Black people didn't like being called Nigger or Darky back in the day, they should have spoken up then, not now so late in the game and make this oh so perfect world so PC and difficult for me and my mates.
Thanks for your input fellas,
Danny Littlejohn

Mitch's picture
Mitch
Submitted by Mitch on

It is an Honor for any one to use your people as a name of respect, for a Sports team. Do you think if we had a team called "The Rednecks", any one would care? I doubt it. I guess "Hill Billy" is not good ether. Oh well. I have Choctaw blood, and I,m good with Redskins. The only redskin I have seen is a sun burned white man! Just saying.

Swervable's picture
Swervable
Submitted by Swervable on

Redskins
Used as a name for many sports teams, this word is offensive by its very nature. In it's
origin, it refers to the bloody scalps of Indian children, women and men that were sold for
bounties aside animal skins in the USA. At this sad period in american history, Indians
young and old, male and female, were hunted like animals by bounty hunters. They were
killed, and then scalped. When these bounty hunters would come to the trading post, they
would receive payment for their deer-skins, their, beaver-skins, their raccoon-skins, and
their red-skins. It is sickening that this horrifying word is still used as a sports team name.

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