Redskinned
July 8, 2015 12:18 PM   Subscribe

A federal judge has ordered the cancellation of the Washington NFL team's registered trademarks, upholding the United States Patent and Trademark Office's 2014 ruling that the trademarks are "disparaging" to Native Americans.
posted by leotrotsky (93 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
 
Good. That's the right decision.
posted by mattdidthat at 12:22 PM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Damn, it's like 2015 is the year we finally decided to start being the future
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:23 PM on July 8, 2015 [202 favorites]


wow thats excellent news
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 12:24 PM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Good that the trademark was cancelled, but also good for possibly giving Dan Snyder a stroke.
posted by easily confused at 12:25 PM on July 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


From the WaPost: The team has argued, however, that a cancellation of its trademarks could taint its brand and remove legal benefits that would protect it against copycat entrepreneurs.

Yeah, I'm not sure it's possible to further taint their brand.

And I would imagine that most bootleggers wouldn't want to be associated with that awful brand. Criminal bootleggers do have some humanity, you know.
posted by el io at 12:25 PM on July 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm starting to think we might actually end up with a socialist president.
posted by maxsparber at 12:25 PM on July 8, 2015 [53 favorites]


I assume some saner heads at the Washington Department of Football Services have another name/logo/etc all set to go?
posted by Elementary Penguin at 12:25 PM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Is it too early to already be exhausted by all the ill-informed white people whining about this on Facebook? (I haven't actually seen any yet, but if the response to TV Land cancelling "The Dukes of Hazard" is anything to go by, I can probably make a pretty accurate prediction.)
posted by infinitywaltz at 12:25 PM on July 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


You know, a red-skinned potato mascot would be... appealing.
posted by SPrintF at 12:26 PM on July 8, 2015 [43 favorites]


Don't spike the ball just yet -- this pushes the ball a little further down the field, but the order doesn't take effect until the team has ... run out of downs ... on the appeals process.
posted by notyou at 12:29 PM on July 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


You know, a red-skinned potato mascot would be... appealing.


Don't you mean "a-peel-ing"?


No, no- I can find my own way out, thank you very much.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:29 PM on July 8, 2015 [43 favorites]


"ill-informed"

Well that's the kindest euphemism I've seen for 'racist'.
posted by el io at 12:30 PM on July 8, 2015 [21 favorites]


A. Of course it's disparaging, c'mon.

B. They will (eventually) change it to Pigskins. Keeps the 'Skins shorthand and wraps in the Hogs historical associations.

C. There will be some organizations that will begin bootlegging inappropriate/embarrassing merch just to further encourage the team to change the name.

D. The Cleveland baseball team really needs to get ahead of the curve and change their name before they start getting wrapped into these kind of lawsuits. Spiders is just sitting there.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:32 PM on July 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


Damn, it's like 2015 is the year we finally decided to start being the future

I'm thinking more like history actually is running in a cycle, and we're finally moving from the Gilded Age period to the Progressive Era.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:33 PM on July 8, 2015 [33 favorites]


It's hard enough being a football fan without the overt and unrepentant racism. This is a step in the right direction, but I still wouldn't let my kid play football.
posted by East14thTaco at 12:37 PM on July 8, 2015


D. The Cleveland baseball team really needs to get ahead of the curve and change their name before they start getting wrapped into these kind of lawsuits.

I kinda thought their relatively recent change to a large C on the hats was a tip toe in that direction. Phase out Chief Wahoo first then move on to the name. Changing to Spiders would be pretty cool.
posted by davros42 at 12:37 PM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I liked it when they had just the R in a circle for the logo (look at the video for the different depictions). That way they could keep the symbol and just change the name to "Racist Fuckwits."

Rock Steady, I like the idea of Pigskins. You could also slip in jokes about pork with relation to the US capital. That should be enough to keep any red-blooded conservative happy.
posted by Hactar at 12:38 PM on July 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Eugene Volokh also has an article in today's WaPo, The Redskins and The Slants: How an Asian American band name case may affect the Redskins trademark.
posted by Rob Rockets at 12:40 PM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's hard enough being a football fan without the overt and unrepentant racism. This is a step in the right direction, but I still wouldn't let my kid play football.

Man, if it isn't rampant racism, it's the inevitable permanent brain damage; kids can't have any fun these days.
posted by el io at 12:41 PM on July 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


he could be chef wahoo and wednesday could be wahoo taco night.
posted by boo_radley at 12:42 PM on July 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


As a Cowboys fan, I wholeheartedly support any action that hurts either the Washington team, the owner, or their fans.

As a human, I am also pleased.
posted by LizBoBiz at 12:47 PM on July 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Tough times lately for racist symbols.




Yay!
posted by gwint at 12:47 PM on July 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


Damn, it's like 2015 is the year we finally decided to start being the future

I was thinking the other day that the Dark Ages ended when someone got their hand on the dimmer switch; at that point we moved into the Dim Ages. We've been slowly trying to push that switch further up, but there's still a lot of pressure trying to push it back down...but this year we seem to have moved quite a few notches. It's still not all that bright, but if we're careful we might stop tripping over the furniture.
posted by nubs at 12:51 PM on July 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


As a Cowboys fan, I wholeheartedly support any action that hurts either the Washington team, the owner, or their fans.

As a human, I am also pleased.
posted by LizBoBiz at 3:47 PM on July 8


Nice try, but you're not fooling anyone.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:52 PM on July 8, 2015 [23 favorites]


So this goes to the Circuit for appeal in how many milliseconds?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:53 PM on July 8, 2015


boo_radley: "he could be chef wahoo and wednesday could be wahoo taco night."

great googly moogly
posted by Rock Steady at 12:53 PM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


You guys... you might imagine this decision couldn't have gone any better. But you should've seen the way it was just dramatized in my head. The judge read his decision just like in the documents, and then he turned to the foot ball team execs and added, "And you know what? FUCK YOU GUYS." Then he high fived a Native American bailiff and stormed off.

That's really the only way this could have been better.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:54 PM on July 8, 2015 [16 favorites]


Wow, they really hit the whiny internet commenters trifecta:
1) waaah my first amendment rights
2) I know a lot of native americans who are not offended by this, therefore it's not offensive
3) [made up history] so you see it's not REALLY offensive, it's HONORING them

Oh wait, this was the TEAM saying that? Like, in a court of law? Huh... wow.
posted by specialagentwebb at 12:56 PM on July 8, 2015 [12 favorites]


This, like the flag controversy, doesn't have to be explained as bigotry or racism. It can be an ideological form of FYGM. "You don't like this? Fuck you." People can be insensitive assholes without being bigots.
posted by djeo at 12:58 PM on July 8, 2015


Hail to the court system.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:10 PM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


2) I know a lot of native americans who are not offended by this, therefore it's not offensive

One of my husband's best friends is both a Washington football fan and Native and he said he was actually sort of fine with the name until he went on-line and saw people defending it and saying shit like "what does it even matter, it's not like there are any Indians still around!" and he was like "Um, dude, I live in DC and if you don't see more of my people around it's because you killed us all and stole our land" and the more people's awful screeds he read defending the name the more he was like "oh shit this is super not cool".
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 1:15 PM on July 8, 2015 [79 favorites]


what a great day! Love the Pigskins substitution.
posted by honey badger at 1:16 PM on July 8, 2015


I grew up in a family that loved this team. I knew the fight song, and I had memorized the starting lineup, all by the age of THREE. Sonny Jurgensen signed my baby book. We used to go watch training camp in Carlisle, PA.

So I kind of understand the wistful longing for those memories to be untainted by the realization that they are based on some truly toxic racism (an urge that some people I know indulge in by trotting out "but it's an HONOR!!!" nonsense). The wonderful woman who babysat me for several years (and who sent me a dollar every year on my birthday well into my late twenties) was a huge fan of the team, and had an entire room in her house filled with merchandise covered in team logos.

But the name and the iconography are STILL WRONG, and the continuation of this name is a symbol of how banal and everyday hateful racism can become. It is a travesty, regardless of my misty-water-colored memories, and it the name must go. A lot of people don't seem to realize that you can keep the memories and still embrace necessary change.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 1:23 PM on July 8, 2015 [13 favorites]


and the more people's awful screeds he read defending the name the more he was like "oh shit this is super not cool".

This is a dynamic that has shifted my position on a ton of things: it's not that I personally am offended (as a cis white woman) by Chief Wahoo or the Washington mascot or Lil Sambo or the Confederate Battle Flag or what have you, but the defenders of that shit are a pretty solid argument for why they've got to go.
posted by suelac at 1:32 PM on July 8, 2015 [42 favorites]



I'm starting to think we might actually end up with a socialist president.--

were that ever to happen, there would still be The Congress and The Senate. Bridgeport, Ct., had a socialist mayor many years ago. When one winter a lot of snow fell and the streets were clogged, people asked the socialist mayor when the snow would be removed. His answer: God put it there. He will see that it is taken away. And he was right! Proves socialism works.
posted by Postroad at 1:35 PM on July 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


The Washington Bullets is currently available. It'd be nice to have a team named after a Clash song again.
posted by jetsetsc at 1:36 PM on July 8, 2015


It is likely that both of these statements are true:
  1. The team name and iconography are offensive to many and should change.
  2. Causing offense is a distressingly weak justification for any legal decision.
#1 will happen, but I fear that #2 will ultimately backfire and increase the time it takes for #1 to happen.
posted by tempestuoso at 1:37 PM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, no. Scandinavia, Canada to an extent, those are what proves that socialism works. I have no idea what the point of that weird little story was.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:38 PM on July 8, 2015 [12 favorites]


Bridgeport, Ct., had a socialist mayor many years ago.

Jasper McLevy, 43rd mayor, served from 1933–1957. Balanced the books, reduced taxes, broke the asphalt suppliers cartel, saving the city thousands of dollars. Sold his predecessor's limousine. McLevy Hall is named after him. Would be the city's most famous mayor, except they once elected PT Barnum.
posted by maxsparber at 1:41 PM on July 8, 2015 [41 favorites]


They will (eventually) change it to Pigskins.

PETA will complain, but I'm pretty OK with that.
posted by frogstar42 at 1:55 PM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hail to the court system.

I should amend my earlier comment. Hail to the Native People who fought for this cause.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:02 PM on July 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


davros42: "I kinda thought their relatively recent change to a large C on the hats was a tip toe in that direction. Phase out Chief Wahoo first then move on to the name."

I went to the Pirates - Indians game last weekend, and was really made uncomfortable by the racist iconography (I'm a white dude, fwiw). Chief Wahoo was bad enough, but this seemed even worse. Yuk.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:05 PM on July 8, 2015


I don't think Daniel Snyder will ever change the name. He's got too much ego invested in it now. What's he going to say? "Yeah, I know I said I'd go to the wall on this one, but I bowed to all the pressure."

Ergo, the NFL will engineer a sale, because it can assure Snyder that he'll pocket at least a billion fucking dollars.

But this isn't going to happen for a few years. And then the new owner(s) will play a season with the old name, and then roll out a new name.

And I'll bet one whole dollar that the new name will be something governmental, with red/white/blue colors. Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for the Washington Senators.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:09 PM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


After this summers news, there is going to be some seriously angry ranting from your right-wing uncle at Thanksgiving Dinner later this year.
posted by Wordshore at 2:18 PM on July 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


Causing offense is a distressingly weak justification for any legal decision.

IANAL and I don't pretend to understand all the ins and outs here, but doesn't the Act that governs US trademark law have a clause about trademarks not being disparaging/offensive or some such? That's the bit that got this whole ball rolling, IIRC - the Trademark panel cancelling the marks on that basis?

If my understanding is correct, then it wouldn't be a weak justification for this particular legal decision because that justification is part of the law that this pertains to?
posted by nubs at 2:26 PM on July 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


If Dan Snyder really wanted to honor Native Americans, he could try winning some fucking games for a change.
posted by peeedro at 2:37 PM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Damn, it's like 2015 is the year we finally decided to start being the future

I hope so, because 2014 sucked in so, so many ways.
posted by zardoz at 2:41 PM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wow, they really hit the whiny internet commenters trifecta:
1) waaah my first amendment rights
2) I know a lot of native americans who are not offended by this, therefore it's not offensive
3) [made up history] so you see it's not REALLY offensive, it's HONORING them


This is literally the playbook every time there's a push to change a native mascot. Only thing that's missing is, "Well we better change the Vikings then!" or similar nonsense.
posted by nathan_teske at 2:42 PM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


So what, practically, does the decision mean? Assuming it gets upheld through the various rounds of appeal, what would that mean? Would it really make a significant dent in the Redskins bottom line if they lose the trademark, or is it more just a public relations hit?
posted by yoink at 2:43 PM on July 8, 2015


So what, practically, does the decision mean?

Since the team can't register the trademark, it can't use that as a legal means to prevent others from using the trademark. Wanna make some Redskins T-shirts and hats? They won't be bootlegs this time. :-)

Now, the NFL itself is a trademark-owning entity, as is the NFL Players Association (the players union). They will certainly make counter-claims to preserve ownership of whatever it is they own (e.g. a Redskins hat that would say "officially licensed" or the NFL-specific logo and marks). Moreover, (I think) the ruling affects the name, not the visual logo and all the other marks owned by the team and/or the NFL and/or the NFLPA.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:50 PM on July 8, 2015


Since the team can't register the trademark, it can't use that as a legal means to prevent others from using the trademark. Wanna make some Redskins T-shirts and hats? They won't be bootlegs this time. :-)

I understand what the legal decision means. What I'm asking is what the real-world practical effect will be. I assume most fans of a team want to buy the "official" team merch. I also imagine that much of the money that flows to the Redskins through licensing deals is as a result of deals made with the NFL as a whole.

So does anyone actually know how big a deal this is for them, financially?
posted by yoink at 2:59 PM on July 8, 2015


I assume most fans of a team want to buy the "official" team merch.

Yeah, people like to buy the official merch, but they'll buy the knockoff stuff too.
posted by borkencode at 3:10 PM on July 8, 2015


Wow, they really hit the whiny internet commenters trifecta:

Well at least the whiny internet commenters will be able to take a break from:
1. Well he really did have darker skin.
2. There's no such thing as "brownface" anyway.
3. Gah, why everything gotta be so PC all the time?
posted by fuse theorem at 3:14 PM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


One of my husband's best friends is both a Washington football fan and Native and he said he was actually sort of fine with the name until he went on-line and saw people defending it and saying shit like "what does it even matter, it's not like there are any Indians still around!" and he was like "Um, dude, I live in DC and if you don't see more of my people around it's because you killed us all and stole our land" and the more people's awful screeds he read defending the name the more he was like "oh shit this is super not cool".

Defenders of [racist icon] prove racism still exists. It's like the fraternal twin of Lewis' Law.
posted by Deoridhe at 3:25 PM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


This merits my return from beyond the grave to cheer every so briefly.
posted by spitbull at 3:25 PM on July 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


So does anyone actually know how big a deal this is for them, financially?

Hm. This is just some napkin scratching and spitballing.

NFL merchandising sales were $2.1 billion in 2010; those get shared league wide. I'm guessing some teams are more popular than others, but the sharing factor should even that out. 32 teams, so $65,625,000/team - that might be a starting point for a number of what is at stake. This could probably be heavily refined.

Now, like you, I expect that the Washington team and the NFL will continue to churn out "official" merchandise that some fans will buy. But other fans might not, particularly given the cost of official merch - the knockoffs will likely be much cheaper to obtain. And some creative, enterprising folk out there might just figure out some places and ways to use the trademarks that the NFL hasn't exploited yet. So it will take a fraction off that number; I have no idea how to guess that fraction.

And there will be a few other things I could see happening such as ticket and web scams that might be harder to prevent because you can't enforce the trademark. And I also think you'll see some interesting counter-merchandise that use the look and feel of Washington stuff. For example, what appears to be a Washington T-shirt that says "Racists". So some culture jamming. Again, I have no idea how to estimate what that does in terms of dollar value drain.

All of it boils down to money going into pockets that don't belong to the NFL, which could make this interesting. The shared revenue model makes me see two potential (and not mutually exclusive) paths forward - the NFL going all in on the appeal in terms of legal spending; and the NFL putting pressure on the Washington ownership to change the name. Because you get the revenue gain of introducing all new merchandise into the marketplace, which all the die hard fans will need to buy, along with getting away from the legal costs and ongoing bad press around this. I can't find any numbers, but the ramped up introduction of alternate/third/retro uniforms for sports teams of all kinds in the last few years makes me think that there's money to be had in making that move.
posted by nubs at 3:30 PM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I also think you'll see some interesting counter-merchandise that use the look and feel of Washington stuff. For example, what appears to be a Washington T-shirt that says "Racists".

Not sure but would that not be protected as satire already?
posted by Hoopo at 3:39 PM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


People can be insensitive assholes without being bigots.

Yeah, the "Fighting Whities" thing went off the rails real fast as totally missing the point.
They had to add the "no, no, as a bad thing" to sort of underscore the stereotype thing as bad.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:02 PM on July 8, 2015


"Players unions, eh?"

Clearly this great American sport is a bastion of creeping socialism!
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:11 PM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not sure but would that not be protected as satire already?

So, maybe, maybe not. First, because satire and parody are not quite the same thing when assessing fair use. Second, and more importantly, because fair use is less a right than it is a defense.

Even if your use is protected, it may take a very costly legal battle to establish that.
posted by tocts at 4:16 PM on July 8, 2015


This, like the flag controversy, doesn't have to be explained as bigotry or racism. It can be an ideological form of FYGM. "You don't like this? Fuck you." People can be insensitive assholes without being bigots.

Sorry, but there is no "get out of racism free card" for libertarians. Much of libertarian philosophy and politics is intimately tied up with racism no matter how much they deny it. Racism is one of the unspoken justifications for FYGM.
posted by JackFlash at 4:25 PM on July 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


1. The team name and iconography are offensive to many and should change.
2. Causing offense is a distressingly weak justification for any legal decision.
#1 will happen, but I fear that #2 will ultimately backfire and increase the time it takes for #1 to happen.


You know, that is precisely the argument that racists like Barry Goldwater, Strom Thurman and Rand Paul made in opposition to the Civil Rights Act. It is nothing original.
posted by JackFlash at 4:33 PM on July 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yeah, people like to buy the official merch, but they'll buy the knockoff stuff too.

Now that the trademark isn't protected, it seems weird that one upside is that racist merchandise will be both cheap and legal.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 4:40 PM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hurray! Another nail in the coffin of that hideous, national embarassment.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 4:41 PM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Fighting Whities"

"Fighty Whities" is funnier.
posted by The Tensor at 5:01 PM on July 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


Hurray! Another nail in the coffin of that hideous, national embarassment.


This could variously refer to any number of recent news items: the Trump 'Mexican rapists' fallout, Palin being booted from Fox, the South Carolina confederate flag removal, the USSC rejection of gerrymandering and of gay marriage bans.

geez, so much good news recently. Go Bernie.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:04 PM on July 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


I'm not even a baseball fan (I have traumatic childhood softball-related memories!) and the old name wasn't even racist, but the Akron RubberDucks rebranding and logo really impressed me. It was cute AND clever AND uniquely local! Continuity of a good brand is definitely a hugely valuable thing, but continuity of a bad brand is the exact opposite. If people have mixed opinions but they're trending more negative, the time to make the jump is certainly yesterday. I can kind of understand Cleveland maybe not feeling particularly inspired, but you could give this to a bunch of high school students and come up with a dozen different new names and logos that would all be better than what Washington's stuck with now. In the hands of some really creative marketing people, in a city that was basically built to be iconic, it ought to be a no-brainer. And then you sell everybody new merch.

This has gone well past where it feels like a "ruthless capitalism" kind of business decision and into feeling like a bunch of actual racists just decided this was the hill they wanted to die on. They're passing the point where this transition could be a net profit without giving it any real thought, and that's even without this. Unfortunately, I suspect this means it's going to take even more of a fight before they give it up; I don't expect unauthorized merchandise to actually hit them hard enough to knock them off this particular soapbox.
posted by Sequence at 5:18 PM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow-wow-wow. Progressive era indeed.

Now if we can just get some labor protections back... let's hope Obama's overtime proposal goes through. God forbid, some people might be able to shut their phones off after they leave work.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 5:22 PM on July 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


"Fighty Whities" is funnier.

*gesticulates fisticuffsmanship*

The time and money invested from the outset (by the people not literally invested) in sports logos has always perplexed me. If there were some legitimate free speech point to be made, but… there ain’t. There’s no “there” there. I mean, FedEx had to come up with $250 million to change the name of the stadium.
What’s that negotiation look like? $200 million just not enough?
posted by Smedleyman at 5:51 PM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Since we already have the Wizards, how about the Clerics? Or the Illusionists?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:55 PM on July 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


Hopefully town seals are next.
posted by juiceCake at 5:57 PM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Or the Valkyries! Or the Samurai! Or the Tourists! Archeologists! Cavemen!
posted by Wolfdog at 6:22 PM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Washington Ethics.
posted by Ella Fynoe at 6:26 PM on July 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Washington Ethics.

This isn't fantasy football.
posted by adept256 at 6:29 PM on July 8, 2015 [32 favorites]


They will (eventually) change it to Pigskins.

I dunno. That's a fairly generic term in their market(s).

Of course, it's not like the USPTO has any incentive *not* to rubber stamp everything that comes across their desk, so...
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:29 PM on July 8, 2015


Hopefully town seals are next.

That is offensive both for its subject matter and as an absolutely awful example of a town seal. Ugh. Come on, basic heraldic and vexillogical principles aren't difficult.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:53 PM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Washington Concussions
posted by a lungful of dragon at 7:24 PM on July 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Why not Washington Whiteskins?
posted by klangklangston at 8:35 PM on July 8, 2015


You know, there's a part of me that would love to see a team called the White Devils. Just to see what the "I'm honoring you"/"heritage not hate" crowd would do.
posted by duffell at 8:56 PM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Have a gigantic fucking hissy fit is what they'd do. We all know this.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:28 PM on July 8, 2015


Washington Foreskins ?
posted by Pendragon at 2:19 AM on July 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


If you do a search for "nfl merchandise raid" you will find numerous articles about ICE and DHS making SWAT like raids against businesses selling counterfeit gear.

This is really big money we're talking about and the NFL takes it very seriously. It would not surprise me at all if they flip a switch and apply some pressure to Snyder and there's a new team name in a year.

Even the CFL team Montréal Alouettes understand the profitability of merchandise as evidenced by their signing of Michael Sam. Reports have it that he will make the team even though he walked out of training camp and was doing absolutely terrible. But man the jersey sales.

Big money.
posted by M Edward at 3:46 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Washington Big Money
posted by Going To Maine at 5:49 AM on July 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Washington Big Money

What about "Public Schools" so people will start going on TV and saying "Gee, the Washington Public Schools sure are shitty, someone really needs to work on that" and we can trick them into funding DCPS properly?
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:01 AM on July 9, 2015 [15 favorites]


But what if the Washington team was really good? Then people would think that the schools were great, too!

End of joke.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:18 AM on July 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


The supposition that either of those things are possible takes absurdist humor to previously undiscovered heights.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:22 AM on July 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


ChurchHatesTucker: "I dunno. That's a fairly generic term in their market(s). "

That's not an issue. "Eagles" and "Cowboys" are among the most popular sports team nicknames in the country, and they don't seem to have any problems (well, with their trademarks - on the field is a different matter), and while "pigskin" is a generic term in football, I bet it is a completely unique team name, so it would be better than something generically governmental that may be already taken by teams in other sports.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:55 AM on July 9, 2015


You know, that is precisely the argument that racists like Barry Goldwater, Strom Thurman and Rand Paul made in opposition to the Civil Rights Act. It is nothing original.

What an excellent example of an association fallacy. I'm sure you have something more valuable to contribute than calling people names and alleging that my arguments are theirs.

Sorry, but there is no "get out of racism free card" for libertarians.

There is no "get out of racism free card" for anybody. Attempting to legislate against causing offense is also a shortcut. The Supreme Court rightly tends to side with free speech when the only argument against it is causing offense, so calling this a win is short-sighted from a pragmatic standpoint.

If this goes all the way to the Supreme Court, my wild guess is they'll side with the team owners, which means the team owners and those who support their claims will cry vindication, will dig in their heels even further, and progress will be slowed. Momentum is on the side of progress right now, moving toward the removal of historically racist symbols from public places. My concern is that a doomed legal battle will just prolong the inevitable and slow that momentum. It will still happen, but it will take longer.
posted by tempestuoso at 8:57 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you're using the exact same arguments that avowed racists have used you might want to rethink whether the arguments are serving the purpose you want them to serve.

Attempting to legislate against causing offense is also a shortcut

A shortcut to not having to be bombarded with racist (or sexist or transphobic or homophobic) garbage? I'll take two, thanks!
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:07 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is there a name for the logical fallacy that results from thinking your arguments are correct because you know the names of logical fallacies?
posted by duffell at 9:27 AM on July 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


“Causing offense” as a stand-alone argument would be quite weak sauce, but I can see it argued that there are different degrees of offense here. (“Disparage” reads a little bit more strongly to me, and a professional football team that has benefitted from taxpayer dollars isn't the same as your local bowling team.)

IANAL, but according to SCOTUSBlog some other parts of the Lanham Act did very well before the court last year.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:29 AM on July 9, 2015


The argument for Washington Redtails is compelling. http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/9230556/dc-pol-suggests-redtails-name-change-washington-redskins
posted by Skwirl at 9:36 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is really big money we're talking about and the NFL takes it very seriously. It would not surprise me at all if they flip a switch and apply some pressure to Snyder and there's a new team name in a year.

Yeah, exactly. This is big money and big business, and as I'm going through a slow gradual move away from being a big fan (I'm thinking I may never stop being a "fan" in general), part of that has been unpacking some bits and realizing just how brilliant a business model pro sports is. Because it is an entertainment business.

Part of my current unpacking has been noting that the reason I may always be a "fan" in general is that sports, as an entertainment business, is pretty good at generating drama. Not every play, not every game, not every week, but fairly consistently producing moments of high emotional involvement and release. That's fun - we love seeing the big play, the great athletic moment, the hail mary that works (and even the ones that don't), the surprise upset or the amazing highlight reel moment that happens seemingly out of nowhere. It's cathartic. Couple that with the sense of community that develops around a team, and you have a huge emotional investment base to work from that gets followed with dollars because we're emotionally invested so we come to the games and we buy shit like jerseys and hats and T-shirts. You feel part of something, win or lose.

But at the top of this (and I'm leaving out the athletes, who get compensation but I think the model also works on their dreams and ambitions and psychological focus in different ways) are a group of businessmen, and everything is a business decision. You want to win, because that helps the bottom line, but even when you aren't there are ways to keep the base engaged and their wallets open - you sell hope and new talent and plans and draw on that community sense of "we're all in this together, hang on."

I think for me, it really became apparent when I was at a meeting with a committee of the local hockey team's community foundation. They had given us a grant, so we were there to update them on progress and thank them and all that stuff. The President/CEO of the team was part of the committee, but could only stay for the first half of our meeting because he had to get to the airport. You see, it was the Stanley Cup playoffs, and while the local team wasn't in them, nearby rival team was (and I'm talking one of the two teams that if you were a fan of the local team, you were pulling for them to lose). Anyways, it was game 7 of the final that night, and the owners of the rival team had invited the owners & brass of the local team to come out and join them in their box at the game. So of course, he was going and hopping one of the owner's private jets. I don't want to say it was eye-opening, because it wasn't, but it was just a real confirmation that at the top levels, these are businessmen. And one group of businessmen had invited another group to come out and (hopefully) join in a celebration of success and enjoy the spectacle. They aren't rivals the way we (the fans) are encouraged to think and behave; they are partners in a big overarching business, just running different divisions, but relying on the fans acting like it isn't.

Anyways, I digress and am long winded (as usual). But I expect that even as the NFL prepares the legal team to take the field of battle (ESPN 9: The Legal Gridiron), there's another set of calculations going on that involves the costs of changing the name alongside the windfall of all the new name/logo/identity merchandising sales (alongside the last-chance sales to get the stuff with the old name). The argument will boil down to dollars. Right now they are defending the right to continue to profit from the current racist crap name they have; behind the scenes they are likely already considering new names and logo designs so they can be ready to roll it out at a moment's notice if they lose or decide there is more profit in changing direction.
posted by nubs at 9:44 AM on July 9, 2015


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