One of the big, pressing issues of the day in the Washington D.C. area is the name of the local NFL franchise, the Washington Redskins.
For example, a pair of influential sports casters has taken to boycotting the name itself:
King, Simmons take important stand by not using offensive nickname for Dan Snyder’s team
“I’ve decided to stop using the Washington team nickname. It’s a name you won’t see me use anymore. The simple reason is that for the last two or three years, I’ve been uneasy when I sat down to write about the team and had to use the nickname. In some stories I’ve tried to use it sparingly. But this year, I decided to stop entirely because it offends too many people, and I don’t want to add to the offensiveness. Some people, and some Native American organizations—such as the highly respected American Indian Movement—think the nickname is a slur. Obviously, the team feels it isn’t a slur, and there are several prominent Native American leaders who agree. But I can do my job without using it, and I will.”
King isn’t alone here. Awful Announcing noticed that another high-profile figure, Bill Simmons, referred to the team as the “Washington D.C.’s” in a recent post.
King and Simmons are two heavy hitters. They have a combined 3.3 million followers on Twitter. So when they decide to take a stand, it gets people’s attention.
It has has been traditional to name football teams after people with generally positive connotations for years. For example, Houston, has its Texans, Tampa Bay its Buccaneers (yes, pirates have a good name in Florida), New Orleans had its Saints, Minnesota it's Vikings (who seem much nicer after a thousand or so years than they were in person), and of course, the Cleveland Browns (huh?).
With the rise of the PC mentality, it seemed like the term "Redskins" might have a negative connotation, something other than the noble original inhabitants of the continent, so called because, on the average, their skins were somewhat darker and ruddier than the average colonists, and movement began to force the team to change its name to something less offensive, the way the local basketball team changed its name from the Bullets to the Wizards.
Consulting a few local aborigines, indians, Native Americans, the usual response I get is "Well, it would be one thing if they'd win a few seasons, but who wants losers named after you?"
So perhaps the Redskins should get a new name after all. So let's think about what kind of people live in Washington that might be admirable.
The Senators? Already used. The Congressmen? Is anybody held in lower esteem? Maybe the "White House Press". The Lobbyists? Powerful, but lacks a certain cache. The Washington Bureaucrats? Yuch! Or name them after the NSA, the FBI and the CIA, and call them the Washington Spooks? No, probably not...
Many other teams are named after animals with favorable PR. The Philadelphia Eagles. Bald Eagles I presume, since Philadelphia is not exactly Golden Eagle county. Eagles who would rather steal from Ospreys than fish for themselves. Then there's the Seattle Sea Hawks, named for the Ospreys who are the Eagles favorite grocer. The Arizona Cardinals, for a small, bright, and otherwise ordinary bird. The Chicago Bears, if only because bears occasionally kill someone. The Jacksonville Jaguars because, well, two "Js"?
I can hear the roar of the crowd now, roaring:
Wombat-socho is passing around this week's "Rule 5 Monday" in a brown paper bag.