After 88 years of the Redskins, ownership finally took accountability for the racist slur present in their name. Ironically enough, in a 2013 interview with USA Today, Snyder said, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER – you can use caps.”
The term “redskin” has long been disputed by linguists, Native American activists who consider it a slur. Miriam-Webster dictionary literally defines the word as “offensive.”
Not only this, but Washington has a career of racism in it’s past. They were the last NFL team to integrate all players of color into the organization in 1961. About a decade later, a delegation of Native leaders met with the organization and pressured Washington to change the name. However, they only succeeded in changing a few lyrics in the fight song “Hail to the Redskins.”
In 1992, several Native Americans filed a petition to revoke the team’s federal trademark registrations. The Supreme Court rejected their petition in 2009. In 2006, another petition arose to cancel the team’s registrations, and the Native Americans weren’t given justice until 2014.
Washinton Finally Makes a Change
But it wasn’t until July 1, 2020, when Washington decided to take a long look at their name change. It wasn’t until nearly all sponsors stopped selling Redskins merchandise. First, FedEx, for whom their field is named after, revoked their sponsorship until a name change occurred in the organization. Then, many other big businesses, including Nike, followed. Finally, on July 3, 2020, the Washington Redskins launched a “thorough review” of the name.
Max Kellerman sounded off on the name change on First Take, saying, “That’s a garbage statement by that organization. It’s unsurprising, Dan Snyder is doing this like a perpetual toddler who doesn’t want to do something. They could’ve been a little bit out in front of this, a little bit out ahead, but rather than that, they chose to be kind of dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. And as a result of the fact that they were gonna lose untold millions of dollars because sponsors were pulling out left and right,” he said.
They had unbearable financial pressure applied to them, so Dan Snyder simply had no choice. Thus, he deserves no credit. A moment that could’ve been forward-looking and good for the organization instead is a moment where we all think, “yeah, finally.”
After years of apparent racism in the name and organization, after years [especially the last six] of fighting for systemic racism to end, after years of constant Native American suffrage, this change in the name comes. Welcome, “Washington Football Team.”