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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Time for a Name Change

It is time for the Washington Redskins to change their name.  Those of you who know me personally probably had to read that sentence several times to make sure their eyes were not deceiving them.  I am a traditionalist.  I am a political conservative.  I am a Redskins fan.  And yet, I believe that the time for a name change has come.

I've written in the past about political correctness getting ridiculous when it comes to choosing a sports mascot.  A mascot is not inappropriate merely because it refers to a group of people or a particular ethnicity.  The Vikings and the Celtics come to mind.  And the Fighting Irish.  Those mascots are not offensive or divisive.  I think a mascot named the Zulus would be fine.  They were a proud warrior culture.  That would be akin to the common Spartan mascot.  But having a logo that looks like King Shaka and calling the team the Darkies would be obviously inappropriate and offensive.  And that's really where the Redskins fall.  They are not the Blackhawks.  They are not the Illini.  They are not even the Braves.  They are a racial epithet.

I realize that virtually no fan (including me) thinks anything one way or another about real Native Americans when they are cheering for the Redskins.  I am confident that not every person of Native American descent is outraged by the name.  Nonetheless, the word "redskin" is not one that needs to be part of our common parlance.

(Larry French/Getty Images)
But, changing the Redskins' name is not just socially enlightened.  It could also make good business sense.  Realizing that your company has a bad public relations image and gets in the news regularly for being a cultural lightening rod is not somehow being soft or bowing to political correctness.  It's just realizing that your image needs a makeover.  It will be great public relations.  And committed Redskins fans are not going to abandon RG3 and company over a new name.  That's especially true because Redskins don't have to do a mea culpa and apologize for their history.  The organization can simply make a statement that they are now moving in a new direction.  It's simply a change.  Not a total divorce from the history of the franchise.  Plus, a new name and logo will give fans a reason to open up their wallets and buy new gear.  We already know that alternate jerseys create a merchandizing buzz.  This could be so much bigger.

(Geoff Burke/US Presswire)
If there was ever going to be a good time to make this admittedly difficult change, this is it.  In the wake of the Aaron Hernandez murder charges, an alarming number of players being arrested in this off season and the never-ending concussion saga, the NFL could use a headline that the press will adore.  And if Dan Snyder gives the NFL that headline, the league could very well make it worth his while.  And in terms of the team on the field, there is a renaissance going on in D.C.  The fans are optimistic and excited.  And for good reason.  Washington is the defending champions of the NFC East.  And, they have a young core of talented players, led by RG3 on offense and Brian Orakpo on defense.  It's an excellent cast of characters to usher in a new era in our nation's capitol.


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