Wednesday , 20 September 2017

Mike Albanese: They Are The Washington Redskins, and Don’t Forget It

mike albanese column mugEarlier this month former Sports Illustrated writer Peter King, now “The Monday Morning Quarterback,” announced he will no longer refer the Washington Redskins as such.

Instead, King states, his site will refer to the team as the “Washington football team” as a protest against Redskins owner Daniel Snyder’s reluctance to change a name many feel is degrading to those of Native American descent.

But guess what, Peter, you and your site can call them whatever you like, but I, and the rest of the country, should continue to call them the Washington Redskins.

Yes, Redskins. Nothing else. And certainly not the “Redtails” as was suggested by a Washington D.C. Council member in May.

That “Washington football team” has been known as the Redskins since 1937 when the Boston Redskins, who played at Fenway Park along with the “Boston Braves,” were relocated to Washington D.C.

The uproar over the name “Redskins” gained steam several years ago after many Native American groups argued the name was derogatory and racist to Native American people.

In March, American Samoa representative Eni F. H. Faleomavaega introduced a bill that would abolish any trademarks that feature the term “redskin.”

In May, Faleomavaega and nine other Congress members appealed in a letter to Snyder, to change the name on the grounds that it was derogatory, offensive and damaging to Native American youths.

Snyder, however, has vowed to never drop the “Redskin” name.

And a majority of Americans feel the name is not offensive and should not be changed.

A poll conducted by the Associated Press in May found nearly four in five Americans don’t think the team should change its name. Only 11 percent think it should be changed, while 8 percent weren’t sure and 2 percent didn’t answer.

The poll was conducted from April 11 to 15 and included interviews with 1,004 adults on both land lines and cell phones. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus-3.9 percentage points.

Among football fans, 11 percent said the name should be changed — the same as among non-fans. Among nonwhite football fans, 18 percent said it should change, about double the percentage of white football fans who oppose the name

And plus, if they do ever change the name, what will ever happen to the “Hail to the Redskins” fight song? Will it become, “Hail to the Washington football team.”

I think not.

While the fight to change the Redskin name is an uphill battle, some groups have been successful in retiring sports names and logos deemed offensive – at least for a little while.

In November 2011 lawmakers in North Dakota passed a bill saying the University of North Dakota can no longer use the moniker “Fighting Sioux” for any of its sports teams.

That ruling, however, was reversed a few months later when North Dakota residents began signing a petition to allow the University to once again use the nickname. The state mandates 13,452 certified signatures to put the law repeal issue before voters. North Dakota has about 684,000 residents. Petition supporters said they turned in more than the minimum number of signatures. The issue is currently in a standstill, and a state-wide vote on whether the “Fighting Sioux” name can be used is still a possibility.

Whether it’s the Redskins, the Fighting Sioux, the Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves or University of Illinois Fighting Illini, the controversy around Native American names has been, and will always be an issue as long as franchise and owners decide to keep the names.

And they have every right to do so.

So when Robert Griffin III dials up another dazzling touchdown pass (although not lately) you can be assured it will Griffin of the Washington Redskins.

Just a shame the Hoggettes aren’t around to see it.

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