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Hang Time
By Steve Stockmar
Daily Courier sports editor Steve Stockmar gives you the cheat sheet for today’s top sports stories.
Thursday, January 10, 2013

Time for the Redskins to change their name

By Steve Stockmar

Richard Lipski/The Associated Press
If Redskins owner Daniel Snyder ever wants to move back to DC from Maryland, he faces political opposition over his team's name.

Let's be real. There are debatable examples of what constitutes PC patrol, and then there's simply what's right or wrong.

The Washington 'Redskins' name?

Yeah, that's just wrong.

It has been for a long time. Efforts to get the franchise to update its historic moniker have come and gone, but a renewed effort to get the ownership to join America in the 21st century seems to be gaining traction. The mayor of Washington D.C. on Wednesday, when asked about the possibility of the team returning from nearby Maryland, said the team's name would have to change before the city limits would consider it.

Let's be even clearer. Simply because the Redskins team name has itself become institutionalized through 70-some years of existence and three Super Bowl titles means little. Tired arguments about longevity don't work, and never have. Nor do calls for everyone who supports a name change to simply relax. And don't even get going on the fact that the franchise is a private business and can call itself whatever it wishes.

It's just wrong. Same as a team calling itself the Blackskins is wrong. Or Brownskins.

Really, is this even up for debate? This is a position of prudence, not free enterprise. If we don't as a culture stand for what's right, what good are rights?

On the other hand, this is not an all-or-none scenario.

In terms of imagery, I happen to love the football team's logo. It's a wonderful representation of Native Americans, and what could possibly be more American than that?

Same goes with the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks. That team name is in honor of Chief Black Hawk, a prominent figure in Illinois history. And that logo is hands-down one of American sports' finest.

Same goes with baseball's Cleveland Indians. The club went from the name Spiders to Indians in 1915 to honor Louis Sockalexis, called "the first known American Indian to play Major League Baseball." And though the team's logo, Chief Wahoo, has also been a primary target for change, I've never seen it as offensive. No more than the Notre Dame logo represents people of Irish descent wearing green clothes, growing red beards and putting up their dukes.

I can buy all those.

But 'Redskins'? The very name has always had a squirm factor for me. Reducing any culture to skin color is not what we're about in America, much less celebrating it or packaging it on merchandise, regardless of whether or not racism is the intent.

Rightfully so, we were all outraged last month when a sportscaster reduced Washington QB Robert Griffin III to maniacal cultural stereotypes over his hair.

But here's the simple litmus test to determine if calling the team Redskins is indeed right or wrong:

Would you call a Native American neighbor a 'redskin' to his/her face, even given your free speech right?

'Nuff said.

Related Links:
• D.C. mayor wants Redskins name change discussed if tea

Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, February 16, 2013
Article comment by: Tired of business as usual...

A "Squirm factor" for you?
So sorry to hear that you have no stones either. You and the other PC Natzi's in this world are trying to make it something it is not. YOUR definition of PERFECT. It will never be. There are some things that you need to leave alone. Leave people's names alone, leave firearms alone, leave conservatives alone, leave law abiding citizens alone, leave team names alone, and leave the rest of us alone too while you are at it. Are you getting it?? Just leave the rest of us ALONE... We do not want to change YOU, so leave us alone... squirm factor... what trash...

Posted: Friday, February 08, 2013
Article comment by: rosemary riddle

im so sorry to see this the issue that it has become - at 81 i never thought of it as a slam - i had a hard time seeing the brooklyn dodgers leave and the yankees - these teams and their names was something to be proud of - to be one that could get on the team was an honor - only now do we start to pick everything apart and it is negative - at 81 i would like to see more to be proud of than the way things are going

Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Article comment by: Cory Saz

@ Steve stockmar nope don't care
It is such a non-issue it doesn't merit any attention at all.

Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2013
Article comment by: michael brown

Here's a little history for those of you who call it "just a sports name". The redskin has always been the most derogatory name of all the sports teams. It has an origin in the history of of our country as a term used to represent the genocide of native peoples. Ask the Cherokee and many of the Northern California tribes. As the settlers were moving into their native lands, there were bounties paid on killing natives and bringing back a piece of their ear or often their nose. This was referred to as a "redskin". Given whether the "redskin" sports team won a legal court battle or not, it is a disgrace to our country and it's peoples to use such a term....

Posted: Saturday, January 19, 2013
Article comment by: The name has been challenged and It has been upheld legally!

The name goes back to 1933 and no one is calling anyone Redskins. It is a Logo and Symbol of a team and is not to disparage any culture or group.

The name has been challenged in court and the Washington Redskins organization won the court challenge. So give it a rest and quit being so willing to jump on every little thing just to be politically correct.

I think calling them the Washington Senators or Washington Congressmen would indeed be derogatory to the team.

Posted: Saturday, January 19, 2013
Article comment by: Steve Stockmar

Hi Cory. Here you go:

Does this make you care about the issue, or was that all hot air?

Posted: Saturday, January 19, 2013
Article comment by: Cory Saz

I might care about this issue, if it was a group of (or even one) American indians gripping about it. But it never is, it's always some feel good, politically correct, big government worshiper that has a feeling it might be offensive to someone. Grow up!

Posted: Monday, January 14, 2013
Article comment by: t. b.

@simply put

"if you still have brain cells"

That wasn't very nice.

Posted: Sunday, January 13, 2013
Article comment by: SIMPLY PUT

To all you diehard reactionaries who have never had a moniker hung on them that identifies their nationality, gender choice, weight or other characteristic in a derogatory way, I simply ask:

Would you root for the Prescott Polacks?

- or the Papal Predators or the Fat Felons?

Give it a thought, if you still have brain cells.

Posted: Saturday, January 12, 2013
Article comment by: Gripy Gripe

Here we go with more political correctness nonsense again. That is what is wrong with this country, busy bodies who have to get into other peoples business because they have nothing better to do with their lives. As was said before, get a hobby!
My spouse is a bigger football fan than I and she is still pissed that the Stanford Cardinals are no longer called the Stanford Indians.

Posted: Saturday, January 12, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Lyle

Steve, you foegot the K.C Chiefs,what about the teams with bird names, they are upsetting the bird watchers. What about the Dallas Cowboys,that misleading because the players are not real cowboys. Come on Steve don't forget the other sport teams name.

Posted: Saturday, January 12, 2013
Article comment by: Gracie xx

Really. If you have such a hard time with the name or the imagery, just pretend the name represents potatoes. Either way, it's not offensive to me, and if it is to you, perhaps you and others who have a hard time with the name are just a weeee bit too sensitive. The name is not now nor has it ever been derrogatory and those who believe it is/was should maybe get a hobby.

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013
Article comment by: Longtime Redskins fan

Mr. Stockmar, do you really have no other sports stories to write about?? Are you an upset Cowboys/Romo fan? This is absolutely rdiculous and I agree with the above posts about how are society can be too sensitive. Where do we stop with letting our government run our lives?
Mr. Stckmar, sometimes when people get themselves worked up about racism it's because of ridiculous articles like this that try to get them riled up.
In the meantime, I will enjoy possessing an assault rifle and rooting my Redskins on!

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013
Article comment by: sean k

Leftists are so ... stupid I cant stand it any more!

Redskins is historical to what the Europeans called the delaware indians who literally painted their faces bright red.

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013
Article comment by: The Rev

After the recent lost to GB I DEMAND the Vikings change their name. It is offensive.

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013
Article comment by: Why Change?

We have the Black Panthers, black colleges, etc. so why change everything now. Seems like this new generation can't take anything sensitive anymore. Listen to some of the television programs, especially Family Guy, where they don't care what it said and everyone laughs. A distorted generation. I suppose foul language is the new common.

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013
Article comment by: Freda Jeffries

From a long time Redskin fan....

Many years ago while living in Maryland my husband took me to a "Skins game and it was exciting for me to see the band director with the long feather headband stretching to the ground and the Redskinettes in their special outfits, and I felt pride! In reality, I've never heard the American Indian addressed as "redskin" since the cowboy and indian movies of the 50's, and derogatory never entered my mind, it was just a name. As Washington Redskin fans, we join many others in pride of the team without a thought of negative actions toward the American Indian...of which we have many friends. On a trip across the Navajo Reservation, we were thrilled to see a high school at Tuba City with their large "Home of the Redskins" sports team! Again, no thoughts of any derogatory words or actions, just "hurrah, go team go!" As fans, we also enjoy the antics of the "hogettes!" The District of Columbia, as well as our Country, certainly has more pressing problems that need correcting than changing the name of a football team.

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013
Article comment by: Touchy, Touchy

What a hypocritical nation we've become. African-Americans, really? How about just Americans. How about the word "gay" that was used in movies and songs to mean a totally different meaning than what it means today? Let's just get defensive about everything.

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013
Article comment by: Washington DC

How is "Redskins" not racist? Adolf Hitler was inspired in his extermination policies towards the Jews by the genocidal policies of the United States towards Native Americans. Hitler used the term "Redskins" to refer to the racially inferior Russians who he wanted to conquer:

Hitler said: "There's only one duty: to Germanize this country by the immigration of Germans, and to look upon the natives as Redskins.' Having been a devoted reader of Karl May's books on the American West as a youth, Hitler frequently referred to the Russians as 'Redskins'. He saw a parallel between his effort to conquer and colonize land in Russia with the conquest of the American West by the white man and the subjugation of the Indians or 'Redskins'" (James Pool, Ibid, pp. 254-255)


Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013
Article comment by: Hooty hoo

Steve, you're right. But don't forget the most important reason to not change it: "it's the way we've always done it!".

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013
Article comment by: Attentive Listener

Actually, "blackskins" would not be a direct analogy, because as far as I know "blackskin" has never been a widely used pejorative term for African Americans. Having a team called the "negroes" or "n****rs" would be a direct comparison. And sorry Mr. Stockmar, but no one cares that you don't find the mascots offensive.

I see I've already been preempted by the wisdom that removing pejorative language from our lexicon is the same thing as banishing ethnicity, even ethnic food, from our culture. (Who) ... wrote that?

There's nothing offensive about that statement, right?

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013
Article comment by: Uncle Remus

Here we go with trying to mask the differences of various ethnic groups. Perhaps we should ignore the cultural differences of the worlds' people and enforce the melding of all to make one "mixed batch" of people called "free world" people where everybody looks the same. That way we couldn't tell the difference between an African and an Eskimo! We're all the same! No nationality, no difference where everybody is a mulatto. Want to eat Mexican food? Sorry that doesn't exist anymore because we got rid of all the Mexicans and blended them with the Jews. Italian food? A thing of the past since they were blended with the Ethnic Albanians and a pinch of Puerto Rican! As for our sports world the mix players would be pretty boring as there would be no super stars. Basketball with 50% white? Pathetic. Who could watch it?
I tire of all this talk of forgetting the drastic differences in the worlds' culturally differences. We should be glad try something different and enjoy the differences instead of ridding them.
As far as removing the team name of Redskins we should leave it alone. As a white man I would not be offended if I were called White skin but there's always someone looking to be offended even if they're not part of the group they're defending.
There's more important causes than a football teams' name.

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