The issue surrounding the naming of the Washington Redskins has heated up this offseason as widespread debate between the NFL, the United States Congress, Redskins owner Dan Snyder, and the general public on whether or not the Redskins name should be changed has reached a boiling point.
Still nothing really has changed for now as the Redskins have the support of commissioner Roger Goodell and by all accounts will enter the 2013/14 season as the Redskins. Having Goodell’s support is huge for Dan Snyder is his fight to keep the team’s historic name and avoid a huge loss in merchandise sales, but it has drawn some criticism from the Native American community directed at the head of the league.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has defended the Washington Redskins’ nickname by saying that it “stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.” Native American author Mark Anthony Rolo says he and other Native Americans don’t see anything respectful about it and want the Redskins to change their name.
In a column published by several papers as part of the McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Rolo said that Goodell’s statement can’t hide the fact that the name of one of the NFL’s 32 teams is offensive to Native Americans.
“Goodell’s offensive reply is not only cowardly, but it is also an antiquated defense reminiscent of those who refused to recognize other pop culture stereotypes such as Little Black Sambo and Frito Bandito,” Rolo wrote.
Rolo suspects that the real motivation of Goodell and Redskins owner Dan Snyder is simply that they’re worried that a name change would cost the league merchandising money, money that is worth continuing offending Native Americans. In a story about the Redskins controversy in the New York Times, marketing experts suggest that there may be truth to that, and having to change names could cost the team millions. With those costs in mind it is highly unlikely that the league and the Redskins name are going down without a fight.
If the Redskins lose their trademark protection in the courts, it may turn out to be financially damaging to the team to keep its name, as it would no longer be able to control its own merchandising, something that would likely be the coup de grace in the Redskins branding. With a group of Native Americans currently challenging the Redskins’ trademark on the grounds that a racial slur cannot be trademarked Dan Snyder and the NFL are on the hot seat.
If the team loses that battle, it may decide to change its name not because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s the right thing for the bottom line. That is how the end to this very negative situation is going to sadly be achieved. It is sad enough to see Dan Snyder trying to justify the Redskins name after so many complaints, but the NFL following suit makes this whole situation even sadder. I don’t think the Redskins name is going away any time soon, but to the group that is currently fighting Dan Snyder, it will go away before they quit fighting to allow a business to make money off of what they feel to be a racial slur.