Names Come and Go But The Fans Stay the Same
Should the Washington Redskins change their name? The answer is yes. And now, while the Redskins are mired in a seemingly perpetual slump is the perfect time to do it.
Changing a sports team name isn’t something to be done lightly. Especially when the franchise, like the Washington Redskins, have a long, storied history. However, for some teams, the time comes when they (or more precisely the owner) decide enough is enough. That time may be coming soon for the Redskins.
The main reason for changing the name of the Redskins is that more and more people have come to view the team’s name as derogatory. Certainly using the term redskins to refer to Native Americans is no longer socially acceptable in the way it was when the team first adopted the name in the 1930s. And while fans of the team may be ok with the name, there are plenty of non-fans whose opinion still contributes to the overall public view of the team. In fact, a survey found that a majority of Redskins fans would not use the word “redskin” to describe Native Americans.
Washington D.C.’s basketball team, the Washington Wizards, changed its’ name barely 15 years ago. Prior to 1997, the team was known as the Washington Bullets. Due to then-Bullets owner Abe Pollin’s concern about violence in Washington D.C., he made the decision to change the name. The decision to change the name was controversial then, mainly because the possible names were unpopular with the public. As time has passed, fans have generally accepted the change, however many still would like to return the name to the Bullets.
Just as the Redskins name was popular with fans, so too was the Bullets name with fans at the time. The lesson from the Bullets name change appears to be that the new name needs to be more appealing than the old one.
Many other franchises have changed the team name after moving to a new city or a change of ownership. This happened with the move of the Cleveland Browns franchise to Baltimore in the 1990s. Cleveland retained the rights to the name “Browns” and the team in Baltimore became the Ravens.
While owner Dan Snyder has said he will “NEVER” change the name of the Redskins, once the team’s stadium deal is up a name change is likely. If the team continues its long losing streak that may prompt a name change sooner rather than later.