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Dec. 17, 2009

Shout out your name with pride

by Gardi Royce, Page Editor
As legendary Redskins supporter Chief Zee screams his war chants and beats the edge of his seat, other fans look with admiration at the man who bleeds burgundy and gold. The passion of this ardent rallier is something Washington fans are used to every season. However, the Redskins have been on a rocky path recently, enduring stressors from a terrible season to a controversial Supreme Court case over the team name. The Redskins have always had trouble with critics who find their name offensive. What these critics fail to realize, though, is that "Redskins" is being used not in a derogatory manner, but rather as a mark of respect and honor.

As one of the oldest teams in the National Football League (NFL), the Washington Redskins have had a history of harboring some of the most dedicated fans in the country. Every game day, fans stream in from all corners of the Washington metropolitan area, flocking to the legendary FedEx Field. Up until this year, the stadium stood as the largest in the NFL, striking fear into enemy opponents every Sunday from September to January. But not even the hogs, the legendary offensive line, could prevent this onslaught of attacks by Native American activist groups that claim that the organization needs to remove the trademark because the name is extremely derogatory. The teamís history, though, tells a different story.

In 1933, the Boston Braves football team changed their name to the Boston Redskins (now the Washington Redskins) in honor of their Native American coach, William Henry "Lone Star" Dietz. They changed the name to remember the man whom they respected for his poise and confidence. Since then, the organization has poured millions of dollars into marketing the nickname and has spent the past 70 years upholding the historic team. For a team with this much controversy, the management has always loved and cared for the franchise. They have never abandoned the team and are always doing all they can to improve the quality of the organization. As the second-wealthiest NFL team, the Redskins are never ones to shy away from spending money on their team. In 2009, they bought defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth for over 100 million dollars, making him the highest-paid defensive player ever. Since 1933, when they changed the name in order to recognize their coach, they have remained faithful to their coaches and fans.

With their name plastered across every national newspaper in the past few months, the Redskins are being unfairly attacked and have garnered extremely negative attention in the media. A Native American activist group brought its case to the Supreme Court in an attempt to get a hearing, but the justices dismissed the case because it had been too long since the nickname was implemented to now be bringing the case up. Though activists may believe the name is offensive, solely targeting the Redskins unfairly singles out the organization. There are many other teams in the world of sports with names of Native American origin, from the Cleveland Indians and the Atlanta Braves to the Florida State Seminoles. If America is truly going to single out the Washington Redskins for their name, there needs to be equal and widespread treatment. Nevertheless, none of these teams means any disrespect toward Native Americans, and they have all spent their careers honestly respecting their organizations.

The whole issue is being blown out of proportion by the news media that want to cast the Redskins as an offensive organization. The truth is much more representative. A recent poll by the University of Pennsylvania National Annenberg Election Survey surveyed more than 700 Native Americans in 48 states and revealed that 90 percent of them did not view the Redskins' name as offensive. This statistic alone should have stopped the onslaught of name-calling and negative media. The small proportion of Native Americans who do find the name offensive are intensely outnumbered by the die-hard fans and citizens who see the Redskinsí name as a respectful salute to Americaís original inhabitants.

In a time when everything is judged as whether or not it is "politically correct," the Washington Redskins organization is being unfairly targeted for an issue that has been hashed over many times before. The poll of Native Americans should show to opponents and to the entire world that the vast majority views the nickname as a tribute and honor to their historic ancestry. So even though the Redskins are having a tough year, they will never stop "fighting for old D.C."



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