Why Dan Snyder needs to change his team's name
The United States Patent and Trademark Office canceled the trademark registration for the Washington Redskins on June 18, finding that it may disparage Native American groups. While the ruling does not mean Daniel Snyder, owner of the Redskins, has to change the team name, it may cause Snyder to lose the right to prevent companies from using the team's name and logo. Snyder has resisted change for a while, but he must understand that changing the name would not only be compassionate to Native Americans who are hurt by the team name, it would also benefit himself and his team socially, financially and ethically.
Sure, one can argue that today's society is one of increasingly suffocating political correctness, and abolishing every word that somebody finds offensive would not leave us with many words. However, when a word such as redskin has such harsh and negative connotations with certain groups, that word needs to stop being used.
The team's name is not just offensive because of the derogatory term 'redskin'; it is also dehumanizing to Native Americans. Football is an aggressive sport, so a football team named after a racial group creates implications about the people of that group. The team name perpetuates the 17th century stereotype that Native Americans are aggressive, warmongering savages. It creates an unflattering caricature of Native American people that has negative effects on their treatment and perception in society.
So why has Snyder not been forced to change the team's name and logo yet? The answer is simple: the team's name has 'great tradition' behind it. However, a team's name having 'great tradition' behind it does not excuse it from being offensive. In 1995, the Washington Bullets' owner Abe Pollin changed his team's name to the Wizards because of the high homicide rate in D.C. at the time. Many showed outrage about a change to the beloved team name, but today people can look back and see that such a switch made sense.
While the Redskins have had their name since 1932, the traditional background of the name should not triumph over compassion. The name "Redskins" is hurtful, not only to Native Americans, but also to Snyder's image and wallet. Snyder owns the team that represents the nation's capital, and a derogatory team name is not representative of the values of our nation. He needs to understand that it's time for a change.
Arthi Vijaykumar. More »