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Native peoples have fought these mascots since 1963
October 10, 2013 4:54 PM   Subscribe

There has long been protest about the name of Washington's NFL team - the "Redskins". In September, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell changed his stance from supporting the name, to saying "if one person is offended, we have to listen." Then last week the President of the United States sided with changing the team's name. Shortly afterward, the NFL agreed to have representatives meet with the Oneida Nation about the name in the next month. Then yesterday Washington team owner Dan Snyder wrote a letter to fans and season ticket holders in an attempt to defend the name "Redskins". But one writer tells what Snyder essentially said with his letter. Amid an official campaign and groundswell of support for changing the name, Ray Harbritter of the Oneida Nation professed "This is not going to away this time"

In mid-September after Goodell said the NFL should listen, ESPN's Rick Reilly wrote an article about the controversy. In it, he suggested it was mostly a bunch of white people complaining. Citing his Native American father Bob Burns as saying "The whole issue is so silly to me," Reilly ridiculed Goodell and those who support the name change as hypersensitive. Hours ago on IndianCountryTodayMediaNetwork, Bob Burns set the record straight, going completely against Reilly, providing the context for the quote, and fully supporting the name change:
What I actually said is that “it’s silly in this day and age that this should even be a battle -- if the name offends someone, change it.” He failed to include my comments that the term “redskins” demeans Indians, and historically is insulting and offensive, and that I firmly believe the Washington Redskins should change their name.
Today, the National Congress of American Indians - the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization - released its report "Ending the Legacy of Racism in Sports & The Era of Harmful "Indian" Sports Mascots":
“Indian” sports brands used by professional teams were born in an era when racism and bigotry were accepted by the dominant culture. These brands which have grown to become multi-million dollar franchises were established at a time when the practice of using racial epithets and slurs as marketing slogans were a common practice among white owners seeking to capitalize on cultural superiority and racial tensions.
This all follows a day-long symposium held in February 2013 - Racist Stereotypes and Cultural Appropriation in American Sports. Video on YouTube: Part one, Part two, Part three. At the symposium, the false history Dan Snyder is trying to profess to with regard to the history of the "Redskins" name is discussed in detail at 52 minutes in, though the presentation is rich with information and learning opportunities. One audience member, an ex football player and football coach, and armed forces veteran sums up what he thinks this issue is about:
"...WE OWN YOU, is what I've heard people say about my native heritage. Don't you understand? We can't do what we used to do to the black/African American people. The Latinos now have political power, but we own you. We will define how we honor you - don't tell us how to honor you, because we own you. If we want to call you Redskins in the nation's capital, we will. Because we own you..."
posted by cashman (209 comments total) 52 users marked this as a favorite

 
I saw this graphic on MoJo's tumblr this morning which I think is pretty excellent. (I have not yet had time to read the accompanying article or any of the ones in this FPP so I will do that now.)
posted by elizardbits at 4:59 PM on October 10, 2013 [11 favorites]


As a Rhode Island sports fan, I give permission for Dan snyder to appropriate my cultural heritage, the best pro-football team name ever - The Washington Steamroller. Their logo is kind of terrible, so you can appropriate the basketball team's.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:02 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


What sort of asshole do you have to be to invert the meaning of a quote from your own father-in-law?
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:03 PM on October 10, 2013 [45 favorites]


What about the Fighting Irish? Is that a demeaning mascot or what?

I might settle for the Literate Irish, the Poetic Irish, the Educated Irish, but not the drinking or fighting Irish.
posted by Repack Rider at 5:04 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]




The plan for "dealing with the issue" for teams like the Redskins and the Indians is simple and disgusting: drag their feet until Native American people fade into memory and the issue becomes moot.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:05 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing is, if they changed the name they'd almost certainly make a mint on all the new merchandise. How great would this look on a sweatshirt?
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:07 PM on October 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Change it to Whiteskins. Everybody wins.

The thing is, if they changed the name they'd almost certainly make a mint on all the new merchandise.

Oh, it'll be a moneyloser. The 'skins will lose way more fans than will suddenly appear. The Venn diagram that shows Mefites and football fans doesn't have a huge overlap. Some, obviously, but not huge.
posted by codswallop at 5:07 PM on October 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Some other items: The Onion produced a piece in August - Report: Redskins Name Only Offensive if You Think About What It Means. The symposium had many relevant images to share, these among them, and there was a reference to the film In Whose Honor, which shows an encounter between Charlene Teeters, whose story is remarkable, and "Chief Zee", who Washington Post writer (and symoposium panel member) Mike Wise did a feature on one week ago. Also, Maureen Dowd wrote this piece - Call an Audible, Dan.
posted by cashman at 5:08 PM on October 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Change it to Whiteskins. Everybody wins.

Not me. As a white guy, I find it offensive.

I will, however, accept The Stalwart WASPs
posted by IndigoJones at 5:09 PM on October 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


> what Snyder essentially said with his letter.

Damn, that is a first-class takedown.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:10 PM on October 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


One of my friends is a Native who lives in DC and is a big Redskins fan. He mentioned one that the name never bothered him until he started reading defenses of the name and realized how racist they all are.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:11 PM on October 10, 2013 [19 favorites]


As a white guy, I find it offensive.

Ha, ha - even if you're one of the good ones, no one cares :)
posted by codswallop at 5:15 PM on October 10, 2013 [5 favorites]




To be fair, if they changed their name, decent people could stop cringing, and racists would have something new to whine about for 30 years, so it's kind of a win-win.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:20 PM on October 10, 2013 [19 favorites]


Oh my gosh a young dude recently told a group including me with great certainty that Native people don't care about the Redskins etc. issue, that it's a few white people who care. I just outright laughed and said, no that is not true, lots of Native people hugely care.

Now I know where he got this bright idea (ESPN). Heavy sigh.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 5:22 PM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Change the name already.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:23 PM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


> The 'skins will lose way more fans than will suddenly appear.

People are pretty maniacal about their football team fandom. I find it hard to believe that a lot of fans would just stop following the team just because they changed the name to something non-racist but then again people are pretty terrible.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:23 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Change it to Whiteskins.

Or Foreskins.

But would the circumcised feel marginalized then?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:28 PM on October 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


From Rick Reilly's article:
The 81-year-old Washington Redskins name is falling, and everybody better get out of the way. For the majority of Native Americans who don't care, we'll care for them. For the Native Americans who haven't asked for help, we're glad to give it to them.

Trust us. We know what's best. We'll take this away for your own good, and put up barriers that protect you from ever being harmed again.

Kind of like a reservation.
Wow. That's some deep shit, man. I can't believe he resisted the urge to really massage that last sentence for ultimate zingerosity:
"Kind of like... what's that word I'm thinking of? Oh, yeah. A reservation."
posted by Atom Eyes at 5:30 PM on October 10, 2013 [6 favorites]




Thought Exercise: In order to keep the team name as is, every six months Dan Snyder has to meet with a group of Native Americans (including children) every month and call them all by his team's name to their face without feeling any shame. Should he feel shame, he must change the name. The meeting is recorded and uploaded to YouTube.

How many months would it take before Snyder started to show signs of shame?

Trick question! Legumes don't feel shame!
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:36 PM on October 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


I kinda like Gregg Easterbrook's suggestion: "The Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons."

Meanwhile, the rest of the league could handle them the way Baltimore handles (for different reasons) The Indianapolis Football Team, and not acknowledge their team name in any way when they play there.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:37 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


In MN, there is a group campaigning to make it illegal to use the word "Redskins" on a sign on any publicly owned building, or spoken over any publicly owned PA system. The stadium is of course publicly owned.

It would be hilarious if you went to a game and they weren't allowed to write or say the name of the opposing team -- kind of like writing a novel without using the letter "e".
posted by miyabo at 5:38 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


The one area of his job in which Rick Reilly genuinely excels is backing the wrong horse.
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:38 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Atom And His Package also had a song about this, titled If You Own The Washington Redskins, You're A Cock.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:41 PM on October 10, 2013 [15 favorites]


I'm a die-hard NFL fan (did you guys see the pick-6 Eli Manning just threw?) - but an Eagles fan, so it's not like I'm unbiased - and I think it's a racist name and should be changed. I talk a lot of football at work and have taken to calling them the "Washington racial epithets" or more frequently just "Washington." Of course my politics are on the far left and I am very prone to support positions like this, but the whole "history" angle is so bogus. A lot of racist garbage has a long history, and that's where it belongs.
posted by graymouser at 5:42 PM on October 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


My grandfather has an apple orchard in Washington state. When I was a kid I thought the Washington Redskins referred to apples and was puzzled by the face on the mascot.
posted by MadMadam at 5:44 PM on October 10, 2013 [12 favorites]


In MN, there is a group campaigning to make it illegal to use the word "Redskins" on a sign on any publicly owned building, or spoken over any publicly owned PA system. The stadium is of course publicly owned.

Has this group heard of the First Amendment?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:45 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fighting words are not protected speech.
posted by Cookiebastard at 5:46 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fighting words are not protected speech.

This is correct, but doesn't negate my point above.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:50 PM on October 10, 2013


The 'skins will lose way more fans than will suddenly appear.

Oh, come on.

You're saying that people who were previously Redskins fans are going to stop being fans if they change their name?

That's ludicrous.

Firstly, you've got the example of the New Orleans Hornets' name change to the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans is the fucking stupidest name ever, The Hornets is far superior and uncontroversial despite not being locally relevant, and yet I don't think they've lost fans over it. Sports teams change their names. It's not that big a deal.

Secondly, football team affiliations are very tribal. You don't pick a team because you like the name. In a way, your team picks you. Especially in terms of football, where there are fewer teams more geographically spread out. I grew up in New Orleans and will always have a soft spot for the Saints. Even though I'm not even religious and think the name is sort of dumb. When I lived in New York, despite not really following football, I instinctively knew that I'd be more a Jets fan than a Giants fan. I find it a little hard to believe that a less racist team name is enough to send all their fans to Baltimore en masse.

Doesn't the notion that the team will lose fans imply that a large percentage of Redskins fans are racist fuckwads who specifically only root for that team because they hate Native Americans? I mean, I get people's apathy about it, or the feeling that there's no reason to change because, like, "Native Americans don't care" or "it's tradition" or whatever. But that's a different thing from taking the stance that, if the team changes its name, YOU WILL NOW HATE THEM FOREVER. Which implies that your team having a racial slur for a name is actually really important to you.
posted by Sara C. at 5:54 PM on October 10, 2013 [14 favorites]


Has this group heard of the First Amendment?

Sounds like its not a First Amendment issue because (presumably) its limited to the use of public funds.
posted by graphnerd at 5:58 PM on October 10, 2013


"There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or "fighting" words those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality."

SCOTUS Justice Frank Murphy in the majority opinion in Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire
posted by Cookiebastard at 5:58 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Repack Rider: "What about the Fighting Irish? Is that a demeaning mascot or what?"

I know you're joking (I ... think you're joking) but it's a really different thing for a group of people to call THEMSELVES "the Fighting Irish" (and Notre Dame's largest student ethnic background is still Irish, even today) which, while using an old-timey stereotype, does not actually use a slur, than for a professional football franchise to make millions of dollars off a racist slur. Also, the history of Irish-Americans in the United States is very different than the history of Native Americans in the United States. Irish immigrants faced some ugly stuff, but they were largely welcomed to their adopted homeland and assimilated fairly easily (as large waves of immigration go), not subject to genocide and, well, all the other things in Native American history that other people can talk about more intelligently than I can.

Even so, there are members of the Notre Dame community who have some ambivalence about the mascot, precisely because of its stereotypical overtones and an awareness of the sometimes-problematic nature of sports mascots, especially those tied to specific ethnic groups. I would hope that if a large number of Irish or Irish-Americans started saying, "Notre Dame, we have a real problem with your 'Fighting Irish' mascot," Notre Dame would have a dialogue about that and be sensitive to it. (I'd threaten to withhold my alumni donations if they didn't but I'm already withholding them on like six other issues so oh well.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:58 PM on October 10, 2013 [11 favorites]


In all seriousness, I've been arguing about the Washington Football Team's nickname on the Internet long time now. Popular opinion seems to finally be swinging around to recognizing that the name is, indeed, a racial slur.

There are a number of mascot names and images that also could, with justification, be identified as slurs, but its important to look at the context of the different names and images.

Using the "Fighting Irish" as an example, while the name's history is somewhat clouded with legend, it was chosen to reflect the actual ethnic make-up of a large number of the late 19th/early 20th century student body. To whit, the people who chose that to be the nickname were mostly of Irish descent.

There are also situations where specific local tribes have given their blessing to local universities using their name and iconography. Its worth noting, for point of comparison, that referring to a member of the Seminole tribe as a Seminole is not a slur. Referring to a member of that same tribe by the name of Washington Football Team would be appalling.

A decent argument can be made that team names that fall in either of those categories should be changed as well. However, that's not the argument I'm making today.

We're in the 21st century and its time to retire all of the casually racist team names and images used by our professional and college sports teams. The Washington Football Team is arguably the biggest offender, but there are a number of other glaringly obvious racially charged names, traditions and images out there. Calling out the Washington team's name as racist is not being "politically correct." Its being a decent 21st century citizen who respects fellows citizens.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:00 PM on October 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


Yeah, the Notre Dame thing is a ridiculous comparison. As an Irish-American liberal who hates ND and will find anything to dislike about the institution, the situations are in no way similar.
posted by graphnerd at 6:01 PM on October 10, 2013


Cookiebastard, we aren't talking about fighting words.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:05 PM on October 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Polls don't seem to show any popular mobilization against the name. two polls (one an Annenberg poll from 2009) claim that NAs don't object to the name, but it'd be interesting to see a more recent one (or just a few more to see if those were anamolous.)
posted by jpe at 6:06 PM on October 10, 2013


To resolve the Federal Shutdown/Debt Ceiling Crisis, the one concession we can make is: "THE WASHINGTON TEA PARTY". Yeah, everybody'll love it.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:10 PM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Pelicans is the fucking stupidest name ever, The Hornets is far superior and uncontroversial despite not being locally relevant

What? Hornets are bothersome at picnics but easily squashed. Pelicans RIP THEIR OWN FLESH OPEN TO FEED THEIR CHILDREN. Pelicans rule and I rest my case.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:15 PM on October 10, 2013 [15 favorites]


I follow sports and the tide has turned on this matter. Two years at most before the name is changed.
posted by vapidave at 6:21 PM on October 10, 2013


From the Rick Reilly link: I guess this is where I'm supposed to fall in line and do what every other American sports writer is doing.

Ah, yes, the courage of the arsehole. What a noble thing that is and how humbled I feel reading of his struggle to protect being an arsehole who defends racist names. *tiny tear trickles down my cheek*
posted by lesbiassparrow at 6:23 PM on October 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


...specific local tribes have given their blessing to local universities using their name and iconography...

Ugh. That football team is in my neighborhood and I went to that college. I know the local members of their tribe have sanctioned the use of the name. But I also know that every home game there are drunk idiots in "war paint" doing the "Tomahawk Chop" around here, and even though the team name is not racist, its use has inspired these grotesque displays of racist behavior and I'd so much wish they had changed the team name to the Dirac Attack or something.
posted by Cookiebastard at 6:24 PM on October 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


I would hazard a guess that more people there know who Bobby Bowden is than Paul Dirac.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:26 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


And OMFG the picture on that article that states "Headdresses are traditionally worn on important occasions by Native Americans who have worked to earn each feather". Yes! Because that is why people at games wear those headdresses! They have worked hard to earn each feather by...attending Redskins games.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 6:27 PM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


The thing is, if they changed the name they'd almost certainly make a mint on all the new merchandise. How great would this look on a sweatshirt?
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:07 PM on October 10 [+] [!]


My god. If they changed their name to the Washington Redtails, I know folks; folks who don't know a horse-collar tackle from a first down; folks who still bear horrible psychic scars from being bullied by members of their highschool football teams, decades ago; but who would nonetheless cover themselves head-to-toe with team merch, and rock that shit continuously, 24-7-365. Hell, a couple of 'em might even manage to sit through a game or two.

In fact, I would probably buy and wear a team jersey myself, even though my One True Sports Team is the Als. Who admittedly are somewhat sucking at the moment, but really, it could be so much worse. To my husband: If you see this, sweetie, I am so, so sorry. But not as sorry as the Bombers' management should be.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 6:28 PM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


...and even though the team name is not racist, its use has inspired these grotesque displays of racist behavior and I'd so much wish they had changed the team name to the Dirac Attack or something.

That's something Florida State should be clamping down on. It significantly weakens their case for keeping the name, even with the support of the local Seminoles.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:29 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


A handy dandy flow chart: Should I name my team after an ethnic group?
posted by dry white toast at 6:32 PM on October 10, 2013 [11 favorites]


The thing I find bizarre about this is that even if the name wasn't explicitly a racial epithet, this would seem analogous to Germany having a fußball team named "the Berlin Jews." How do people not find it creepy and inappropriate, no matter how many of the people who might be called "Redskins" can be found to claim that it doesn't bother them? And more and more North American languages are going extinct every year, for example - this genocide is even less "in the past" than is the Holocaust.
posted by XMLicious at 6:32 PM on October 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


We could just borrow the name from another great DC area institution, add in the hot dog-besotted fan base of a new sports constituency, and call them the Washington National.*


*the Reagan is silent
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:35 PM on October 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


... It would be hilarious if you went to a game and they weren't allowed to write or say the name of the opposing team -- kind of like writing a novel without using the letter "e".

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
posted by oulipian at 6:35 PM on October 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I would hazard a guess that more people there know who Bobby Bowden is than Paul Dirac.

Pfft. Paul Dirac predicted the existence of the positron. Of course more people have heard of him than...than...



*sigh*
posted by Cookiebastard at 6:36 PM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]




The Washington pigskins. I'm from dc, everyone calls them the skins anyways and you don't even change the nickname and you keep the hogs. Was that so freaking hard?
posted by slapshot57 at 6:38 PM on October 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


Can they put it to a fan vote like Ole Miss and Adm. Ackbar? I always find it interesting changing the names and uniform designs. Write in candidates and logo mascots change? Best to convince fans with alternatives that can say, "Hey, that's not half bad." than leaving to what is usually a lame attempt with the end result, "Golden ____"
posted by brent at 6:39 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


We could just borrow the name from another great DC area institution, add in the hot dog-besotted fan base of a new sports constituency, and call them the Washington National.*

You know that that the major league baseball team in DC is called The Nationals, right?
posted by spicynuts at 6:40 PM on October 10, 2013


Dropping the Redskins name is not without precedent. The Nepean Redskins just announced last month that they are dropping the name (my son played for them). Over to you, Mr. Snyder.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 6:43 PM on October 10, 2013


Yes, hence the reference to hot dogs, since as far as I can tell half their fan base is interns on dollar dog day....
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:43 PM on October 10, 2013


I'm partial to The Washington Department of Football Services.
posted by COD at 6:44 PM on October 10, 2013 [90 favorites]


Oh COD I would actually watch football games that are not the Super Bowl if there were a team called The Washington Department of Football Services.
posted by BlueJae at 6:52 PM on October 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


Did anyone link the current Onion article?

Washington Redskins change their name to the DC Redskins.

And their most offensive team names.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:01 PM on October 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, they could also go with what the Iroquois called George Washington by calling the team the "Washington Town Destroyers".
posted by FJT at 7:02 PM on October 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


the way Baltimore handles (for different reasons) The Indianapolis Football Team, and not acknowledge their team name in any way when they play there.

Can I assume they do the same for the Cleveland-based franchise?
posted by aaronetc at 7:02 PM on October 10, 2013


The Browns?
posted by box at 7:14 PM on October 10, 2013


Firstly, you've got the example of the New Orleans Hornets' name change to the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans is the fucking stupidest name ever, The Hornets is far superior and uncontroversial despite not being locally relevant, and yet I don't think they've lost fans over it.

That would imply there were any to lose

(Not that I disagree with your overall point)



posted by The Gooch at 7:16 PM on October 10, 2013


There was a rumor that every time Dan Snyder received a complaint about the team name, he had it written on yet place in the stadium. I hope it changes soon but Snyder is a big jerk and I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for him to back down.
posted by kat518 at 7:22 PM on October 10, 2013


The 81-year-old Washington Redskins name is falling, and everybody better get out of the way. For the majority of Native Americans who don't care, we'll care for them. For the Native Americans who haven't asked for help, we're glad to give it to them.

Trust us. We know what's best. We'll take this away for your own good, and put up barriers that protect you from ever being harmed again.

Kind of like a reservation.


I LOVE this! It's a perfect combination of "Well maybe people who don't like racism are THE REAL RACISTS, did you ever think of that?" and "OUTSIDE AGITATORS!"
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:35 PM on October 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Browns?
posted by box at 9:14 PM on October 10 [+] [!]

The Cleveland Browns are named after their first head coach, Paul Brown.
posted by vapidave at 7:39 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh COD I would actually watch football games that are not the Super Bowl if there were a team called The Washington Department of Football Services.

I would actually watch my first football game ever if there were a team called The Washington Department of Football Services. Somebody needs to make this happen.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:39 PM on October 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


I used to recruit for newspapers and a few conversations with Native journalists and others about this nickname. The consensus seemed to be that they found the name horrifying and they were thrilled when the Minneapolis paper refused to use it (I think the paper eventually went back on that idea). But in the overall scheme of things, that issue and the argument about whether Indian or Native was a better term was just not at the top of the list, given everything else the population had to deal with, like abject poverty, sovereignty, etc. But yeah, Redskins was definitely hated more than Cleveland Indians or Chief Illinek (not spelled right.)
posted by etaoin at 7:42 PM on October 10, 2013


We have Redskins in Australia and Coon cheese and long and short blacks as well as Chicos.
posted by unliteral at 7:45 PM on October 10, 2013


yeah but the ravens and the browns have a nasty history. and their history is honestly one of the reasons i think the fans would adjust and still support the team (or they'd get new supporters). a good run of games with some good player stories and no one will much care that the name changed except a few curmudgeons. rg3 could be a good qb to bridge that gap.
posted by nadawi at 7:50 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


also, seriously, how are the bears not running away with this game??
posted by nadawi at 7:50 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Washington Shutdown. Sure, it seems overly topical now. But decades from now, when America has arisen from the ashes of the 2013 default into a glorious free-market future ruled by post-apocalyptic steampunk health insurance gangs on motorbikes, the Washington Shutdown will be known for their steadfast defensive line, their 81-year history of three-armed mutant linebackers, and their ferocious cyborg cornerbacks. "Shut down! Shut down! Shut down!" the crowd will roar after each defensive stop. No one will remember the historical origin of the name. And if they do, why, the name will, after all, honor the brave men and women who broke a country in order to save it.
posted by iceberg273 at 7:58 PM on October 10, 2013 [13 favorites]


The thing I find bizarre about this is that even if the name wasn't explicitly a racial epithet, this would seem analogous to Germany having a fußball team named "the Berlin Jews."

So there's actually a bit of a kerfuffle at the moment in England that is basically this. Tottenham Hotspur fans frequently refer to themselves as the Yid Army, chant about being Yids, and in some circles the highest compliment the fans pay to a player is to call him "yiddo".

All this came about because Spurs had and has a significant population of Jewish support, which prompted the more erudite fans of opposing teams to call them all "yids" derisively. In response, Spurs fans took up the slur and wore it proudly, as a badge of honor, defusing the insult close to completely.

There is currently a fairly high-profile movement to ban the use of the word "yid" in any chant or song, reason being that it is still a slur and England has some pretty strict laws about the use of racial epithets in public. Spurs fans are largely resisting, arguing that it is their tradition, that it's their slur to reclaim, and so on.

So there's some interesting parallels there to the Washington thing. Of course, the major and key difference is that Spurs fans are reclaiming a slur hurled directly at them and a large part of their fanbase, while Washington fans are continuing a slur that isn't aimed at them and which isn't in the province of most of their fans to reclaim.
posted by Errant at 8:26 PM on October 10, 2013 [12 favorites]


Those opposed to the name need to start putting pressures on the companies that sponsor the team. I propose starting with FedEx. They pay millions of dollars a year to put their name on the team's stadium. It is like they are underwriting a minstrel show except substituting red face for black face, and head dresses for the worse african american stereotypes. I wonder if the team's sponsorship of the Redskins could be seen as creating a hostile work environment for native american employees.
posted by humanfont at 8:42 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Huh, I thought they already changed the name to the Washington Racists. I mean, that's what everyone calls them, right?
posted by klangklangston at 8:52 PM on October 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


One of my friends is a Native who lives in DC and is a big Redskins fan. He mentioned one that the name never bothered him until he started reading defenses of the name and realized how racist they all are.

This is an interesting way to look at a situation: flip it around and the truth becomes apparent.
posted by gjc at 9:02 PM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


In other awful sports team news... Cleveland Fans Paint Faces Red in Racist Show of Support for Team
posted by desjardins at 9:28 PM on October 10, 2013


Still voting for the Radskins. Their outfits could glow in the dark.
posted by Redfield at 9:51 PM on October 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


As a 'problem-solving type', I've been giving some thought to this...I realize they totally need a new name, but what?

1) 'Washington Native Americans' is a bit wordy and likely to keep the racists talking racist trash longer and louder, because, y'know...bleeding-heart PC libruls.

2) 'Washington Natives' is pretty much just as bad, right? Might as well call them the 'Washington Coloreds'

3) Anything that doesn't reference Native Americans is well...whitewashing...or no? Honest question.

so...suggestions? I'd lean towards naming the team after the specific Native Americans that live/lived in the area...according to wikipedia this would be the Nacotchtank, but every map on google says Powhatan in that area...?
posted by sexyrobot at 9:58 PM on October 10, 2013


I don't know, I think it would be better to just completely rename the team to something non-objectionable.

You could always go along the lines of other DC sports teams: the Nationals, the Senators, etc. Something that reflects DC's role as US capital and seat of government.

Or just pick a boring omnipresent animal like the Cardinals, the Bears, the Colts, etc. Can't really go wrong with that.

I like someone above's suggestions of the Redtails, or of picking another suffix with skins, because a lot of people just call them the Skins. Pigskins works, as has been mentioned.

Either way, in my experience from watching the birth of the Brooklyn Nets, buy-in is going to happen when you reveal a new logo and merch. It doesn't much matter what you actually call the team. What matters is if the jerseys look cool.
posted by Sara C. at 10:06 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


How about the Washington Nighthawks? There's a street around here called Nighthawk Pass or something, and I always thought it was the coolest name.
posted by Redfield at 10:11 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know nothing about football, but I was thinking... If their defense is good at shutting down other teams, you could rename them to "The Republicans."
posted by moshjosh at 10:29 PM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Errant wrote: So there's actually a bit of a kerfuffle at the moment in England that is basically this. Tottenham Hotspur fans frequently refer to themselves as the Yid Army, chant about being Yids, and in some circles the highest compliment the fans pay to a player is to call him "yiddo".

The downside is that the opposing side's fans shout antisemitic slurs at them and make hissing noises at them to imply - I'm not making this up - that they ought to be killed in gas chambers.

People are terrible.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:47 PM on October 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I am so glad to see more momentum behind this, since it has been needed for so long but there's a big hump to get over to make it happen. I do think a good name and logo would go a long way to making it palatable to fans.

Pigskins, Redtails, ... are there other good candidates?
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:14 PM on October 10, 2013


Just to say, not that it matters: Some folks see the world very differently. I realize some people seem to harbor some kind of hate for native Americans, but I never understood why that would be the case. I'm just not there, at all.

My puzzlement over this is that to me, the term "Redskins", used for a football team, is a term of respect. I mean, that's just my superficial take, and I can't imagine I'm that unusual. I accept intellectually that it's a name that has to go, and I couldn't care less about that happening. I just see it differently.
posted by Goofyy at 11:25 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


They should rename to the Washington States. The confusion and chaos would be worth it.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:43 PM on October 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


I simply call them the Potatoes, like the red skins in the produce department.
posted by Cranberry at 12:18 AM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Goofyy wrote: My puzzlement over this is that to me, the term "Redskins", used for a football team, is a term of respect.

I don't think you could substitute the name "Redskins" with the name of any other racial or ethnic group without causing offense. When people adopt a group's identity in the form of a stereotype they're doing two things: they're constraining and defining that group's characteristics and they're adopting the group's identity falsely. It doesn't matter if the stereotype is a generally positive one: not everyone from Asia is academically gifted, and not all of them want to be perceived that way. The same goes for Jews and business, or Africans and sport. The flip side of allegedly-positive stereotypes is that they feed into negative ones: good at schoolwork, bad at social skills; good at business, but grasping and greedy; good at sport, but stupid and violent. Furthermore, by appropriating the name they're implying that the identity is a persona that can be adopted and discarded, which trivialises both the identity and the experiences of people who have been persecuted because they couldn't set aside their identity, even temporarily.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:37 AM on October 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


It's especially egregious that this has gone on so long considering the storied history of native americans playing football and the innovative techniques they brought to the game.
posted by empath at 1:46 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Errant wrote: So there's actually a bit of a kerfuffle at the moment in England that is basically this. Tottenham Hotspur fans frequently refer to themselves as the Yid Army, chant about being Yids, and in some circles the highest compliment the fans pay to a player is to call him "yiddo".

The downside is that the opposing side's fans shout antisemitic slurs at them and make hissing noises at them to imply - I'm not making this up - that they ought to be killed in gas chambers.

People are terrible.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:47 PM on October 10 [1 favorite +] [!]


Yeah there's a similar thing going on with Ajax Amsterdam. It's.... baffling to be honest. Downright fucking evil to be even more honest.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 1:57 AM on October 11, 2013


The downside is that the opposing side's fans shout antisemitic slurs at them and make hissing noises at them to imply - I'm not making this up - that they ought to be killed in gas chambers.

From what I understand, the anti-semitic stuff started first and then they adopted the "Yid" slur that was thrown at them as a badge of pride.
posted by empath at 2:22 AM on October 11, 2013




You know that that the major league baseball team in DC is called The Nationals, right?

How about them Giants?

Speaking of New York, it also has the Nets, Mets, and Jets. When they get a second hockey team, will it be the Wets, the Pets, the Vets, or maybe the Fetts?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:14 AM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


We could just borrow the name from another great DC area institution, add in the hot dog-besotted fan base of a new sports constituency, and call them the Washington National.*

*the Reagan is silent


The Washington Peacekeepers?
posted by acb at 4:22 AM on October 11, 2013


We have Redskins in Australia and Coon cheese and long and short blacks as well as Chicos.

And a rural sports stadium named the Nigger Brown Oval, after an athlete whose surname was Brown and nickname was the N-word. IIRC, calls to rename it have been dismissed as those politically correct city types meddling with Australian heritage and stuff like that.
posted by acb at 4:24 AM on October 11, 2013


I think the name should be changed, but as a first step, can we change the marching band's costume? You can argue history and tradition and economics or whatever for the name, but this is just a minstrel show pure and simple.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 4:42 AM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


related
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:44 AM on October 11, 2013


we aren't talking about fighting words.

If you'd like to be told otherwise by an Anishinaabe fellow I'll get the two of you hooked up on Facebook.
posted by mr. digits at 5:07 AM on October 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Via deadspin, a contest to re-brand and redesign the team's logo.

Personally, I love the idea of the Redtails.
posted by graphnerd at 5:53 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


You could always go along the lines of other DC sports teams: the Nationals, the Senators, etc. Something that reflects DC's role as US capital and seat of government.

The Washington Gerrymanderers?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:57 AM on October 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Via deadspin, a contest to re-brand and redesign the team's logo.

That first Griffins logo looks like it was ripped off from an AFL team (the Hawks perhaps?)
posted by acb at 5:59 AM on October 11, 2013


You could always go along the lines of other DC sports teams: the Nationals, the Senators, etc. Something that reflects DC's role as US capital and seat of government.

The Washington Congressional Representatives?

AHAHAHAHA J/K!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:02 AM on October 11, 2013


Speaking of New York, it also has the Nets, Mets, and Jets. When they get a second hockey team

Which of the Rangers and Islanders don't count as a hockey team?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:04 AM on October 11, 2013


I'd note that "Warriors" may still be problematic.

I've been reading Peter Pan to my kid, a couple of pages every night, and I have to edit-on-the-fly "Redskins" or "Red Indians" or "Savages" into "Warriors" or "Barbarians" (And the sexist stuff takes care of itself - it comes across like parody in this day and age, which is how I read it.) Even thus edited, I still have to skip over a lot of it as self-congratulating colonial nonsense. I was saying "Warrior", but the story in those places was saying "Redskin" all the same.

Here, people would be saying "Warrior" but they'd be thinking "Redskin" - their mental image would not be of a well-thewed Cimmerian, but of a cigar store indian.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:07 AM on October 11, 2013


My puzzlement over this is that to me, the term "Redskins", used for a football team, is a term of respect.

There are like 10 links in this post that show why its not, but you seem to have skipped over those so I'll just share my favorite ideas from the post and elsewhere. Charlene Teeters (In Whose Honor?) was a grad student who took her children to a basketball game and watched them be humiliated at people basically making fun of them. John, the ex football player talked about how he feels that this is about the last group the dominant culture feels they own, lock, stock and barrel. In the symposium one of the presenters goes through a detailed history of the Washington NFL team name and learns that the person they claim to be honoring (the coach) was a white man who faked being Native American! Mike Wise, I believe, talked about how the team owner in the 60's I believe, went and donated large sums of money to schools in the south on the condition that they stay segregated.

Like in the Washington NFL team case, the University of Illinois mascot for decades was a complete creation. Charlene Teeters said she would always hear "why do you want to take this from us? We love [the mascot]" And she replied that of course you love it, you created it.

There was one person who appeared in an interview and spoke of how the drums that you imagine when you think of these mascots - that stereotypical drum that you hear when people caricature native americans - is even wrong. Native American drums, he said, are like your heartbeat. And he proceded to show the difference.

All of this - all of this stuff isn't honoring them. It isn't respectful. As a news writer said this morning, quoting Dan Synder's letter from Wednesday:
Snyder is no genius, however. He is just another holdout wrapping himself in the false romantic notion that his football team is somehow honoring Native Americans with its name.

“On that inaugural (Boston) Redskins team, four players and our head coach were Native Americans,” Snyder wrote. He used the term Native Americans this time. He didn’t dare write that the Boston head coach was a redskin. That, of course, would be offensive.
There were more than a few parents who got up and said their children were humiliated at sporting events. This is not a term of respect. It is about "we own you", as John said at the symposium.

Another panelist at the symposium offered this: Who are you to tell someone what honors them?
posted by cashman at 6:07 AM on October 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


You could always go along the lines of other DC sports teams: the Nationals, the Senators, etc. Something that reflects DC's role as US capital and seat of government.

The Washington Insiders
The Washington Undisclosed Sources
The Washington Coffeeshops
The Washington Monuments
The Washington Burned-to-the-ground-by-Canadians
The Washington Bipartisans
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:27 AM on October 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm not one to speak to the offensiveness or not of Tottenham Hotspur, but I know that my friend who's been a lifelong supporter of them is1.) not Jewish, but 2.) wears the "Yid Army" name as a badge of pride and in a sort of solidarity with the side's large Jewish fanbase. I'd always thought that bit of history was kind of cool, myself (though I'm horrified at the continuing antisemitism from opposing sides.)

I too think there's a golden opportunity for merch here, and that Redtails is the best way to go. Barely changes the name but takes it from something offensively and reductively appropriating a racial minority (in the capital of a nation which systematically genocided said minority, I mean c'mon here, people) to one which celebrates a specific group of badasses (who also happen to be from a minority group in the U.S.) And the mock-up logo looks great and works well with the existing color scheme and... damn I hope they go that route.

As to what Sara C. was saying about the Brooklyn Nets, yes, you can make a mint on a name/design change, and Washington has that opportunity. But what Jay-Z pulled off with the Nets design was impressive and far from a foregone conclusion. That could have been a disaster but for his sensibilities and insistence on doing things in a fairly bold manner there.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:32 AM on October 11, 2013


The problem with Tottenham supporters calling themselves “Yid Army”, from what I understand, is that it amounts to using a Jewish identity as a shield against the sort of robust banter that is part of football supporter culture in the UK. It's essentially an impedance mismatch between something very grave (genocide within living memory) and a context in which luridly aggressive language is allowed.

Mind you, one could probably make a similar argument about Glasgow Old Firm games referencing the Northern Irish Troubles (Celtic fans singing IRA anthems and Rangers fans talking about killing “Fenians” and such).
posted by acb at 6:38 AM on October 11, 2013


The Washington Burned-to-the-ground-by-Canadians

Hey, too soon.

*snerk*
posted by Cookiebastard at 6:41 AM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Something that reflects DC's role as US capital and seat of government.

The Foggybottoms
The Watergators
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:43 AM on October 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Speaking of New York, it also has the Nets, Mets, and Jets. When they get a second hockey team

Which of the Rangers and Islanders don't count as a hockey team?


You forgot the Sabres. That'd be a 4th NY hockey team, no?
posted by explosion at 6:49 AM on October 11, 2013


We have Redskins in Australia and Coon cheese and long and short blacks as well as Chicos.

I have no idea where Chicos came from as a name, but isn't the (unproven) story that Coon cheese is named after a Dr Coon? Strikes me that Darkie toothpaste made sense for shiny white teeth, but cheese isn't something you want associated with "dirty" folks.

Oddly, I found a Redskin in my desk this week. Those things are delicious, but probably doomed to a name change because we used to have the Redskin Split ice creams (and yes, but use "Ye Olde Red Indian" imagery) which are now just Splits. And delicious.

And a rural sports stadium named the Nigger Brown Oval, after an athlete whose surname was Brown and nickname was the N-word. IIRC, calls to rename it have been dismissed as those politically correct city types meddling with Australian heritage and stuff like that.

It was a grandstand, not a stadium. And it was the 'E S "Nigger" Brown Stand', so there is context. I tend to think that one was a bit of over-reaction (like how Duck Duck Run wouldn't let me search 'Nigger" without turning safe search off.

In any case, when the stand was demolished in September 2008, the Toowoomba Sports Ground Inc decided not to use the "Nigger" nickname in future references to Brown.

But I still think of grass trees as "blackboys" in my head, and I tend to think that it's better to have your gollywogs in Blyton or a Nigger Brown stand and explain why it's bad now than ban 'Sounder' from the classroom.

Although, I have always been confused by the Redskins team. I once had to explain to someone why it was not a good idea to refer to American Indians as Red Indians as they were getting on a plane to the US, so, in conclusion, language is a thing of contrasts.
posted by Mezentian at 6:51 AM on October 11, 2013


I'd lean towards naming the team after the specific Native Americans that live/lived in the area

Right, but without their express non-coerced permission, this is just specific cultural appropriations and racism instead of generalized cultural appropriations and racism.
posted by elizardbits at 6:51 AM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's interesting to watch how the defense of the racist name is always the same:
1. oh, its really honors the Native people/tribe, whatever. Maybe Seminoles, but REDskins?
2. It doesn't bother ME
3. It's tradition
4. I'm one-third/three-quarters/whatever Cherokee so it's okay

It's always the exact same defense, and it's time to dispose of it.
posted by etaoin at 6:57 AM on October 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Strikes me that Darkie toothpaste made sense for shiny white teeth

Still available, though now renamed “Darlie”. Which only makes it seem obnoxiously patronising (“look at the black man in his dinky bow tie, isn't he adorable?”)
posted by acb at 6:57 AM on October 11, 2013


I know. But the only places I see "Darlie" are in (Asian not American) Indian supermarkets, which is so confusing to me, but then I remember they also sell skin-whitening cremes.

They still have the same basic "Mammy" *jazz hands* branding though.
posted by Mezentian at 7:04 AM on October 11, 2013


NYT this week profiled anti-mascot activist hero Suzan Shown Harjo.
posted by xowie at 7:09 AM on October 11, 2013


I can't help but notice that the average NFL owner's attachment to the history and traditions of their franchise tends to become extremely tenuous around stadium-lease-expiry time. It's a bullshit excuse.
posted by Jakey at 7:22 AM on October 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


The trick is to somehow redirect the passions of those adamantly opposed to changing the name to some other aspect of the culture war that they strongly identify with. Maybe it's second amendment rights -- how about the Washington Bullets?
posted by eddydamascene at 7:38 AM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


On the off chance that anyone in this thread thinks that Rick Reilly is not a complete hack writing whatever will get him the most attention, please compare his most recent article on the topic to this one from 1991.
posted by SpiffyRob at 8:04 AM on October 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Does the "Chicago Blackhawks" count a racist team name? It's a tribe name and not a racial slur, but I am curious to hear the opinion of MeFites.
posted by Vindaloo at 8:12 AM on October 11, 2013


I have no idea where Chicos came from as a name, but isn't the (unproven) story that Coon cheese is named after a Dr Coon?

Edward Coon, who apparently developed a particular cheese making process (cooning). Hence Coon cheese was a type of cheese. Coon the company apparently named itself after its signature product. Here's the patent.

long and short blacks


Espresso coffee is a very dark brown, almost black. It's descriptive. Before today, I've never heard anyone claim that was some sort of crypto racism.

Chicos

Well, yeah, that looks pretty golliwoggy and racist.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:14 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Washington Gerrymanderers?

And their beloved walkaround mascot, Gerry Mander! He could be dressed as an old-timey explorer-cartographer à la Lewis and Clark for the irony, but people would probably end up romanticizing him. Better off to put him in a suit and tie, wearing a blindfold and carrying a map and a pointer.

If they persist in keeping the name, I suppose they could change their mascot to an absentminded, painfully sunburned white tourist in a Hawaiian shirt, with zinc cream on his nose, blisters on his arms, and white flip-flop lines on his feet.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:15 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


You could always go along the lines of other DC sports teams: the Nationals, the Senators, etc. Something that reflects DC's role as US capital and seat of government.

At the moment, the Washington Fuckups would seem to be appropriate.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:19 AM on October 11, 2013


Edward Coon, who apparently developed a particular cheese making process (cooning)

I've *still* read multiple claims (and recently) where Edward Coon never existed, and he's a fiction to defend the name.

I'm with you on the whole "long and short blacks" though.

Well, yeah, that looks pretty golliwoggy and racist.

Chicos seems more latino, which would make little to no sense in an Australian context.
Wikipedia mentions The word "Chicos" in Spanish translates to the English word "kids". and since they are cocoa flavoured it might be skating close to the wind, but in a world of Chiko Rolls and they are basically jelly babies but brown, I give it a pass. I've never heard folks call Aboriginal kids Chicos (but picanninies, yes).
posted by Mezentian at 8:25 AM on October 11, 2013


Does the "Chicago Blackhawks" count a racist team name?

I always assumed Blackhawks were a type of hawk. You know, a black hawk?

My younger brother played on a soccer team called the Blackhawks at one point and their logo was a black bird of prey, not any sort of human being.
posted by Sara C. at 8:25 AM on October 11, 2013


Does the "Chicago Blackhawks" count a racist team name? It's a tribe name and not a racial slur, but I am curious to hear the opinion of MeFites.

Technically, they're named for the 86th Infantry Division, which had the nickname "Blackhawk Division" after Black Hawk, who was a leader of the Sauk.

I don't think any of that context absolves the imagery, though.
posted by Copronymus at 8:27 AM on October 11, 2013


I always assumed Blackhawks were a type of hawk. You know, a black hawk?

I am only familiar with the DC WW2 heroes, but... well, that logo is all scalp 'em in vibe.

Which is interesting. The logo has a weird Maori vibe happening.
posted by Mezentian at 8:29 AM on October 11, 2013


Yeah, wow, that logo is really unfortunate.

Especially for a team that could easily just rebrand and avoid all the racism.
posted by Sara C. at 8:31 AM on October 11, 2013


Especially for a team that could easily just rebrand and avoid all the racism.

And how. Why, here's an example. DC would love it.

Now, if someone could just explain Red Wings, I'd be sorted.
posted by Mezentian at 8:35 AM on October 11, 2013


In addition to the Nepean Redskins name change thing, Ottawa recently tried to name its new baseball team the Tomahawks. Fortunately, most people immediately went "Ummm.. WTF? is this 2013?" and they decided to change the name... to the Ottawa Skyhawks.

(Sky... hawks... as opposed to LAND hawks? Dunno, but we seem to love stupid names what with the Ottawa Redblacks joining the CFL next season. Though better than being the second Roughriders in an ~8-team league... Sigh.)
posted by urbanlenny at 8:42 AM on October 11, 2013


How about this? Pick four potential team names and associated uniforms, use each of them for four games next season. Replica jerseys for each of those four uniforms will be produced and sold ONLY for the month they're being auditioned -- buy them now, or you'll never get another chance. Have a secret fifth name/uniform combo that's only revealed if the team make the playoffs. Whichever name/uniform sells the most merch becomes the new one. They'd make so. much. money.

Or they could have some basic fucking human decency and change the name just because it's CLEARLY the right thing to do hahahahahahahahaha j/k.
posted by davidjmcgee at 8:49 AM on October 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Greg Nog, yes!

Whenever this comes up, I always hear Atom answering:

"When there's a Jesus Christ mascot dog shooting crucifixes
They nail to a cross, dying to save the team
You'll be right, you'll be right
But until then: you're not right"

posted by crepesofwrath at 8:52 AM on October 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sky... hawks... as opposed to LAND hawks?

As opposed to Rail Hawks. It's a bird...that's also a train...that's also a second division soccer team. North American sports team names get goofy fast.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:53 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Via deadspin, a contest to re-brand and redesign the team's logo.

I think the "Washington Generals" is clever (though Washington Town Destroyers would still get my vote). Mostly, I'm amused that it currently has a 3-star rating on that page.
posted by Panjandrum at 9:12 AM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


North American sports team names get goofy fast.

You've seen all the references in this thread to "Tottenham Hotspur," right?
posted by Navelgazer at 9:17 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


You could always go along the lines of other DC sports teams: the Nationals, the Senators, etc. Something that reflects DC's role as US capital and seat of government.

The Washington Insiders
The Washington Undisclosed Sources
The Washington Coffeeshops
The Washington Monuments
The Washington Burned-to-the-ground-by-Canadians
The Washington Bipartisans




The Washington Deep Throats
posted by nickmark at 9:23 AM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Washington Insiders

The Washington Outsiders would actually be kind of badass.
posted by davidjmcgee at 9:30 AM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Washington Irvings?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:31 AM on October 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sometimes they'd go by the Irving Washingtons when that gets monotonous.
posted by davidjmcgee at 9:32 AM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


—Speaking of New York, it also has the Nets, Mets, and Jets. When they get a second hockey team[...]

—Which of the Rangers and Islanders don't count as a hockey team?

—You forgot the Sabres. That'd be a 4th NY hockey team, no?
If Jets then Devils ?

Oh it was about the rhyming joke. I like "Pets." They could use Pornos for Pyros as theme song. MetLife tie-in mascot Snoopy?
posted by zbsachs at 9:32 AM on October 11, 2013


There's already a major U.S. pro sports team named after Washington Irving, thank you very much.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:36 AM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Some ideas:
Washington Break Ins
Washington Our Mayor Smoked Crack
Washington Dolphins
Washington Monuments (With phallic logo)
posted by PHINC at 9:45 AM on October 11, 2013


Sky... hawks... as opposed to LAND hawks?

Canadians are just really REALLY big fans of the A-4.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:46 AM on October 11, 2013


The Washington Fat Cats.
posted by vitabellosi at 9:58 AM on October 11, 2013


The Maryland Suburbs
posted by inigo2 at 10:13 AM on October 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


long and short blacks

Espresso coffee is a very dark brown, almost black. It's descriptive. Before today, I've never heard anyone claim that was some sort of crypto racism.


OTOH, I can imagine the terms being problematic in the US or UK, where there's a larger population of people who would have been pejoratively referred to as “blacks” in less enlightened times. Or at least people thinking that maybe asking for a long black could be taken the wrong way, so instead it may be better to call it an americano.

Of course, Australia has its aboriginal population (who were referred to as “blacks”), but it's a lot smaller, mostly in remote areas of the outback, and thus easy to not think about when in the environs of an inner-city café.
posted by acb at 10:33 AM on October 11, 2013


The Washington Fat Cats.

Funny you mention that...
posted by urbanlenny at 10:35 AM on October 11, 2013


Washington Our Mayor Smoked Crack

More like: The Washington I've Seen The Tape And The Bitch Set Him Up

You had to be there.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:38 AM on October 11, 2013


The Washington Force Projection
posted by Rhomboid at 11:26 AM on October 11, 2013


Of course, Australia has its aboriginal population (who were referred to as “blacks”), but it's a lot smaller, mostly in remote areas of the outback, and thus easy to not think about when in the environs of an inner-city café.

The Australian (IIRC) referred to Aboriginal folks in headlines as "blacks" long after most media stopped that and found ways around that descriptor. Which I always thought was odd.

If Australia has to stop ordering short blacks or flat whites it has some major issues to deal with. I would suggest the UK (and maybe the US) need to right themselves if that's an issue ordering coffee.
posted by Mezentian at 11:33 AM on October 11, 2013


The Washington Lincolns!

The fans could buy a souvenir hat with the brim of a tricorn and the crown of a stovepipe. Screw the guy behind you, that's the American way. Diehards would wear white periwigs with black beards attached.

Whenever they lost, people could joke, "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the game?"

Go Links!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:52 AM on October 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Football is going the way of the dinosaurs anyway; the kids these days are all about shirling, a REAL sport.
posted by Mister_A at 12:06 PM on October 11, 2013


>As a white guy, I find it offensive.

>Ha, ha - even if you're one of the good ones, no one cares :)

"One of the good ones"?

Pistols at dawn, and good day to you, sir.
posted by IndigoJones at 12:16 PM on October 11, 2013


Meanwhile, in Fitzwalkerstan Wisconsin, "a bill by ... Republicans would make it nearly impossible to require districts to change team names, logos and mascots that promote discrimination", according to critics, reversing a 2010 law that gave Native Americans living in a school district standing to file an objection with the Department of Public Instruction.
posted by dhartung at 1:28 PM on October 11, 2013


Pick the one name that would make racists even more upset: The Washington Obamas
posted by Turkey Glue at 2:41 PM on October 11, 2013


The Washington Redshirts.

I can't take full credit, autocorrect came up with it. But I'm good with it.
posted by eriko at 3:09 PM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Redshirt" is a term relevant to college sports, which could be a problem (why exactly? I don't really know), but at the same time having the DC team being able to wave a bloody tunic would certainly be appropriate.
posted by mr. digits at 3:28 PM on October 11, 2013


Fuck it, they need to name the team the D.C. Reagangippers.
posted by planetesimal at 9:05 PM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Washington Lincolns. If I could dress up like Abraham Lincoln, or see 20 dancing Lincolns, I might go to a football game.

Okay, not really. I pretty much think football should be abolished. But I love the Washington Lincolns.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:38 PM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Their helmet logo could be a giant naked Reagan with an MX missile for an erect phallus.
posted by planetesimal at 10:18 PM on October 11, 2013


I agree that the Washington football name is inappropriate, and the team should change its name.

But I will say that Metafilter was a lot more interesting place to read before we drove out all the people who think differently than us.
posted by Alaska Jack at 11:12 PM on October 11, 2013


in the US or UK, where there's a larger population of people who would have been pejoratively referred to as “blacks” in less enlightened times.

In the US, "black" is currently used non-pejoratively. It's preferably used as an adjective rather than a noun, but mainstream style guides allow the noun usage. I see it most often used parallel to "whites," as in "Of those interviewed, 60% of blacks and 50% of whites approved the policy."

Is the noun usage considered pejorative in the UK?
posted by torticat at 12:54 AM on October 12, 2013


I think the idea is that "Black people" is fine, but "the blacks" is sort of gross, at least in the US.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 1:31 AM on October 12, 2013


But I will say that Metafilter was a lot more interesting place to read before we drove out all the people who think differently than us.

Take heart! I think you're wrong, because that didn't happen.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:15 AM on October 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Washington White Devils
posted by empath at 4:02 AM on October 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Washington Drones.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:33 AM on October 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a shop in a local market (or used to be, haven't been past for a long time) that sold all sorts of lollies, sweets and candy, including ones that are hardly ever seen nowadays. I was showing a visitor around and we went past the shop. "Haha!" I said, "They're selling Fads! They used to be called Fags!"

This was a short stick of candy with a red tip made to look like a cigarette, sold in packets that resembled cigarette packets.

"They had to change the name, you know!"

At this point I recalled that my visitor was from the USA, and gay.

"Because of the anti-smoking laws," I said hurriedly. "Not because of ..." and I didn't know how to finish the sentence in a way that didn't leave Australians, and me in particular, looking like a less-friendly version of the Westboro Baptist Church.

"Oh, look," I said weakly, "They have the licorice fish you like, too."
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:42 AM on October 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nothing is more offensive than those black licorice fish. Disgusting. Who wants to eat something that looks and tastes like grape sloth poop. I'd sooner eat my curtains.
posted by cashman at 6:12 AM on October 12, 2013


Their helmet logo could be a giant naked Reagan with an MX missile for an erect phallus.

Which leads me to the next brainstorm: the Washington Dicks.

We leave it up to each fan to decide whether "Dick" refers to a ill-mannered person, a detective, a penis, or former President Nixon.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:22 AM on October 12, 2013


Part of an article from August:
In the 1930s, the good people of Pekin, Ill., decided they needed a mascot for their high school sports teams. Pekin was named for Peking (now Beijing), China, so they gave their teams a related nickname: the Chinks . At the start of every basketball game, a Chink and Chinklette — that is, a boy and girl dressed in Chinese attire — would walk into the center of the court and bow.

As the start of the NFL season draws near, I’ve got a question for you: How is the Chink any worse than the Redskin, the feather-clad mascot of Washington’s pro football franchise?

It isn’t. The only difference is that the Redskin purports to be American Indian, not Chinese. And unlike any other ethnic group, Native Americans remain fair game for bigotry on game day.
posted by cashman at 10:11 AM on October 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Washington Monuments seems like a pretty natural fit to me. It's bland, but the merchandising opportunities are incredible. You can sell a new jersey every year with a different monument from around DC.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:11 PM on October 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Name the team the Washington Snyders. That would satisfy his bloated ego and he could be his own mascot.
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:15 PM on October 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I do miss the days when team nicknames were given derogatorily by surrounding fans, e.g. Pirates, Dodgers.
posted by klangklangston at 10:49 PM on October 12, 2013


Mezentian Now, if someone could just explain Red Wings, I'd be sorted.

What's to explain? The Detroit NHL team (then called the Falcons) was bought in 1932 by a guy who changed the name to the Red Wings. The logo came first -- he borrowed it from a by-then-defunct sporting club in Montreal, thinking that the winged wheel would be good for a team from Detroit. Red was probably because none of the other Detroit pro teams were using it.
posted by jlkr at 11:00 AM on October 13, 2013


bob costas discusses the name during sunday night football.
posted by nadawi at 7:41 PM on October 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


"he logo came first -- he borrowed it from a by-then-defunct sporting club in Montreal, thinking that the winged wheel would be good for a team from Detroit."

He was actually a member of that club, which also sponsored an amateur hockey team — and that hockey team won the first ever Stanley Cup.

The logo, as far as I know, was red to begin with.

/Detroit sports nerd
posted by klangklangston at 10:22 PM on October 13, 2013


If you have known for forty years that people find that thing you say offensive, and you keep saying it and saying it and saying it, I think it is fair to say, at this point, that the offense is at least partially intentional.

That Costas thing had that teach-the-conflict false-equivalency quality that makes a lot of modern mainstream journalism seem both heartless and mindless. On the other hand, he did it during a SNF Washington game (and he also mentioned the Cleveland baseball mascot), so, yeah, props for that.
posted by box at 5:07 AM on October 14, 2013


(Yeah, maybe forty years is overstating it. Let's say twenty, then.)
posted by box at 5:18 AM on October 14, 2013


What about the Washington Redstarts. A redstart is a bird native to North America which as a red tail (start). You keep the feather, you keep the "red" and you use an animal. It's not a super-macho animal, guaranteed, but it could work out...
posted by guy72277 at 6:07 AM on October 14, 2013


Let's go with alliteration:

The Washington Waistcoats
The Washington WASPs
The Washington Weasels
The Washington Wastrels
The Washington Warmongers
The Washington Warheads
The Washington Wackos

The Capitol Carcinoma
The Capitol Calamity
The Capitol Conundrum
The Capitol Casanovas
The Capitol Cap-and-Trade
The Capitol Capitalists

The DC Depressions
The DC Despoilers
The DC Deniers
The DC Despicables
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:13 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dan Snyder quietly trademarked "Washington Warriors" as an Arena Football League team back in the late 1990s during the last legal fight. The helmets and uniforms have been designed and are just waiting for the go from the owner.
posted by humanfont at 2:36 PM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Really? Have you seen the designs? I'm curious what their take would be on "warrior", since I can imagine there would be an (asshole) temptation to preserve some of the "noble Indian chief" iconography with that name.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:28 PM on October 14, 2013


Marv Levy (Former NFL coach)
I called Levy Monday and asked him: What's your thought on the debate over the nickname?

Levy said he didn't remember anything about the whole Red Cloud situation from his Washington days. He emphasized that he "didn't believe when the nickname was given it was meant to be derogatory." He said, in his experience, he's never known anyone involved with the Washington franchise who intended for "Redskins" to be used as an insult.

All that said?

"Nevertheless," Levy said, "it's a crude word to define a Native American, and I would think if Native Americans feel offended, it would make sense to change it."

And if Levy owned the team, and he had to make a decision about the nickname?

"I'd give strong consideration to changing it," he said.
posted by cashman at 7:26 PM on October 14, 2013


Hey everyone, let's rename them the Washington Redskeins! Their logo and mascot is a knitting needle with red yarn. They can knit and purl the competition! Also, it is pronounced almost identically.
posted by miyabo at 8:08 PM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Inside my head, anyway, Redtails is the front runner. You'd get to keep the (uncommon, and cool) team colors, you could use both angry birds and old-timey fighter planes as logos and mascots and stuff, and the Tuskeegee Airmen thing would be both a way of making a clean break with the racially-problematic past and a good fit for a team in a majority African-American city.
posted by box at 5:50 AM on October 15, 2013


the redskins have two different racially problematic pasts - there's the name (and all the grossness that goes along with it) and there's the fact that they were instrumental in banning black players back in the 30s, the last team to integrate in the 60s, and did so only under governmental pressure. george preston marshall was a real jackass and the way that snyder goes on about the rich and vibrant history shows hm to be a jackass as well. i don't really love the idea of the washington team repping the tuskeegee airmen because of all that.
posted by nadawi at 6:27 AM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


His [George Preston Marshall's] intractability was routinely mocked in Washington Post columns by legendary writer Shirley Povich, who sarcastically used terms from the civil rights movement and related court cases to describe games: for instance, he once wrote that Jim Brown "integrated" the end zone, making the score "separate but unequal".
That. Is. Epic.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:46 AM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Slap*Happy - i love that mention - i haven't been able to find the actual column yet, but the fuller quote seems to be ''Jim Brown, born ineligible to play for the Redskins, integrated their end zone three times yesterday.''
posted by nadawi at 7:57 AM on October 15, 2013


How the NFL Fleeces Taxpayers

Although teams are privately owned and receive lots of private funding, they do also receive public benefits. Those benefits should be cut off if they're not willing to accept certain standards of decent conduct, including the use of racial epithets.

Of course, I've been beating my head against that brick wall with other organizations for years, so I guess I won't be holding either my tongue or my breath for the immediate future.

---

Today's brainstorm: The Washington Irvings. I know it'll never fly because it's too New York, but confusing the other team could be an advantage.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:19 AM on October 15, 2013


Bulgaroktonos: I think the name should be changed, but as a first step, can we change the marching band's costume? You can argue history and tradition and economics or whatever for the name, but this is just a minstrel show pure and simple.

Oh dear gods, they're all wearing head dresses! Why is everyone wearing one? They are supposed to be reserved for the most powerful and influential among the tribe! Oww, and their fight song!
Hail to the
Redskins!
Hail Victory!
Braves on the warpath,
Fight for old D.C.!

Run or pass and score
We want a lot more!
Beat 'em Swamp 'em Touchdown
Let the points soar!

Fight on, Fight on,
Til you have won,
Sons of Wash-ing-ton!
Rah! Rah! Rah!
Wait, wait, wait ... Braves on the warpath who fight for the old D.C.? And the Redskins are Sons of Washington? What fucked up alternative history are you peddling? Corinne Griffith, you clearly were no historian.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:40 AM on October 16, 2013


Why is everyone wearing one? They are supposed to be reserved for the most powerful and influential among the tribe!

And the cheerleaders are all the First Ladies of Football. Title inflation is a real problem for the team.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:03 PM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


And the cheerleaders are all the First Ladies of Football.

That or polygyny on a massive scale on the part of the President of Football.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:23 AM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


while battling integration, marshall changed the lyrics of the already wtf fight song to fight for old dixie. this is the history snyder wants to honor.
posted by nadawi at 6:40 AM on October 17, 2013




We are human beings. #changethename. [3:17 Video]
posted by cashman at 12:54 PM on October 17, 2013


Out of the names that I think might actually make it, the Washington Redtails is my current favorite contender. But I also find myself considering Washington Generals solely because the internet arguments in favor of it would be SO FUN.

"I don't want to rename the Redskins. The name is a tradition!"
"You don't want to honor George Washington, our Founding Father and first President? Why do you hate America?!?!?"
posted by BlueJae at 11:36 AM on October 18, 2013




Well, since the Washington team played my Bears yesterday, we got to navigate this suddenly-awkward situation when we realized there was NO WAY we were saying their actual name to our 4-year-old who is suddenly interested in sports (or at least sports team allegiances). So it turns out that in our house they are "the Red Team."

And thus they shall be, I suppose, until they change their name.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:05 AM on October 21, 2013


During that last three minutes of that game, I'm pretty sure I called them all kinds of things I wouldn't want a four-year old to hear without saying Redskins.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:07 AM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hail To The Redhawks! Hail RG3!
posted by 0 at 10:19 AM on October 21, 2013


I was looking at Korean baseball team names recently. Most are copies of American pro team names -- Bears, Lions, Eagles, Giants, Twins. But they also have the Wyverns and the Dinos. GO WYVERNS!
posted by miyabo at 10:00 PM on October 24, 2013


DINOS??????

OMG why do we not have any pro sports teams unequivocally* named after dinosaurs?

WHY?

I DEMAND WASHINGTON BECOME THE WASHINGTON T-REXES.

Hm, maybe that would be better for a soccer team.

*Teams called the raptors don't count, as those are birds.
posted by Sara C. at 10:07 PM on October 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Washington Redskins to Bravehearts? Snyder ally registers name for ‘football’ use. A Snyder rep has denied it is connected to Washington's NFL team.
posted by cashman at 11:22 AM on October 25, 2013


Dem Iggles fans will love wearing their new Bra Farts jerseys to divisional games.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:43 AM on October 25, 2013


Hey, I was going to post a link about the Bravehearts (awful goddamn name, by the way, and not just because Mel Gibson is a well-known guy-who-says-racist-things or because 'Oochie Wally' is wack)!

Well, I guess I might as well point out that the Toronto Raptors have both a dinosaur logo and a mascot in a dinosaur suit. Shrug--I would guess that, as much as kids love dinosaurs, dinosaur names are not popular because dinosaurs are extinct--viewed in the right light, 'raptors' is a kind of clever way of getting around that.
posted by box at 4:14 PM on October 25, 2013


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