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Daniel Snyder's refusal to change Washington's nickname is puzzling

August 18, 2014 - Shaunna Dunder Hershberger
The Washington Redskins name change controversy continues to roll along, with Washington owner Daniel Snyder showing no signs of budging from his refusal to change the name.

For more than 20 years, the National Congress of American Indians has deemed the team nickname as a “disparaging” and “racist” label for Native Americans. These voices have been getting much louder lately, and over the summer, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office cancelled the team’s trademark registration because it considers the nickname offensive. Of course, the team appealed the ruling and Snyder feels confident it will be overturned.

Snyder recently voiced his opinion on the matter, saying the nickname is not disparaging to Native Americans but instead a term of honor and respect. He even cited words from the victory song “Hail to the Redskins,” adding that the lyrics don’t say to hurt anybody.

Growing up and watching the NFL as a small child, I never thought twice about the Redskins nickname. To me, that was just the team’s identity, and because I didn’t really like them anyway, I just ignored it. But times change and ignoring things doesn’t make them go away.

Honestly, I don’t feel strongly one way or the other, but I do think that eventually, Snyder should change the team’s nickname. To what, I don’t know. Snyder said that if the nickname is taken out of context, then it could be considered disparaging. But he added that anything can be taken out of context to mean something other than what it was intended. That might be true, but the term Redskins is considered so offensive by some that it doesn’t matter in what context it’s used. And therein lies the problem.

Snyder is missing a great opportunity to win over many by making a name change. And has he even considered how much money he can rake in on marketing new merchandise with a new logo and a new nickname? I’m honestly quite surprised the NFL hasn’t seen the dollar signs a name change in the nation’s capital can bring.

With mounting pressure from the National Congress of American Indians, the public and even politicians, Snyder refuses to relent. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has not pressured Snyder to change the name, as he also feels the name is not meant to be disparaging. Until the NFL flexes its iron fist on the matter, it seems doubtful a name change is coming anytime soon.


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