With unprecedented pressure on the Washington NFL team to change its name a crescendo was reached today when the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board canceled six federal trademark registrations owned by the team, ruling that the term “Redskins” was disparaging to “a substantial composite” of American Indians when the marks were granted between 1967 and 1990. In an article in USA TODAY I started reading about this story. Not because I am a football fan, cause I’m not. I did live in Washington for many years- and I was seen at several games, But mostly I read it because I am intrigued by the notion of changing a football teams name. And that some group can put pressure on the government to cancel patents because of a name.
I wondered how the team got their name because I couldn’t imagine the team would pick a name that would make people feel bad, so i did a tiny bit of research. . . . and Wikepedia was there to help- and if it’s on Wikepedia it must be tru- It says that, The Washington Redskins were originally known as the Boston Braves. In 1933, co-owner George Preston Marshall changed the name to the Redskins, possibly in recognition of the then–head coach William Henry “Lone Star” Dietz, who claimed to be part Sioux. On July 6, 1933, the Boston Herald reported that “the change was made to avoid confusion with the Braves baseball team and the team that is to be coached by an Indian (Dietz)… with several Indian players.
To solidify that even further, Bruce Allen, President of the Braves wrote a letter to Senator Reid in May stating that ” The use of “Redskins” as the name of our football team for more than 81 years has always been respectful of and shown reverence toward the proud legacy and traditions of Native Americans. I guess I could see how if the team wasn’t winning that perhaps that might not be so respectful but really- it’s just a game. Now all you football FANatics don’t go hating on me, I’m just saying.
Now as a marketing person, I can look at the logo – and listen to the Native Americans and understand where they are coming from. But it’s a name of a team of players that show how working well together brings a positive outcome. The game is fun- it entertains, it’s a sport. It creates a sense of community- and team spirit- rah rah!. How could any of that portray anyone in a “negative light”? Their logo and mascot- well- it’s a picture of an Indian. Perhaps it could be updated, it is 2014- they could certainly modernize the look-but since their name is honoring Native Americans it should in fact look like a Native American? I believe years ago there was a problem with the use of a Tomahawk- so what would be better?
I wish everyone would just calm down a bit. We all have to be so paranoid about what we say. What ever happened to “sticks and stones”? The team isn’t trying to desparaging anyone. (not even when they lose) They are trying to play great football. Really what name would be ok? Seems like every word these days has something for someone to complain about.
What do you think? And if you believe the name should be changed- what would your suggestions be?