x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Redskins owner refuses to budge despite public sentiment turning against nickname

Continued delay over taking action on Washington's racist nickname is puzzling.

Ray Halbritter, national representative of the Oneida Indian Nation, gestures as he speaks during the Oneida Indian Nation's Change the Mascot symposium, calling for the Washington Redskins NFL football team to change its name. Carolyn Kaster / AP Photo
Ray Halbritter, national representative of the Oneida Indian Nation, gestures as he speaks during the Oneida Indian Nation's Change the Mascot symposium, calling for the Washington Redskins NFL football team to change its name. Carolyn Kaster / AP Photo

Redskins by any other name still a football team

Somehow, amid the heated debates raging in Washington, DC, about the United States debt ceiling, ObamaCare and the Middle East, enough airtime has been found to accommodate a little sports-related fussing.

A franchise’s long-held nickname (Redskins) is perceived as offensive in some corners to Native Americans and those who sympathise with the nation’s earliest settlers. While some other teams, mainly on the university level, have swapped out logos or mascots considered racially insensitive, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder insists no change is likely as long as he is around, though in a letter last week to season ticket holders, Snyder backed away from statements that the team will carry the nickname in perpetuity.

However, he still wrote, “We are Redskins Nation and we owe it to our fans and coaches and players, past and present, to preserve that heritage.”

President Barack Obama waded into the crossfire, saying he would be “thinking about changing it” were he the team’s owner. Even NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suggested that all views be heard.

Subbing in another nickname is not an obvious call, given that some Native Americans seem unbothered by the Redskins label.

But in America, there are societal shifts that, even as they move at glacial speed, clearly are headed in a certain direction.

That direction is toward dumping the Redskins name. It might not happen in our lifetime, or Snyder’s, but it is inevitable.

Why wait?

sports@thenational.ae