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The Trouble with the Redskins' Name

The Washington Redskins, D.C.’s football team, had a terrible season in 2013, finishing with a record of 3-13. But that was not the only reason they were in the news. They were also in the news for their name, which some people find offensive.

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The word “redskin” is defined in the dictionary as “an American Indian.” The word was used in the 17th century and referred to Native Americans, not because of their skin color, but because of the bright, red face paint they wore. Over the years the meaning of the word has changed, and now the word “redskin” is similar to the offensive nature of the “n” word used to label African-Americans, according to Dennis Seymour, a member of the Baltimore American Indian Center. “The fact of the matter is that people need to be more sensitive to it,” Seymour told CBS news last November. The Oneida tribe from upstate New York actually ran a radio ad campaign urging the Redskins to change its name. The ad said, "We deserve to be treated as what we are — Americans." DeAngelo Hall, a defensive back on the team, told Fox Sports, “They probably should [change it]. But they won’t, for a while at least.”

Some find the Redskins name to be unacceptable, some think it’s fine. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said during a press conference that the Redskins’ name honors Native Americans and that it has been around too long to change it. He added, “In a Native American community poll, nine out of 10 supported the name, and eight out of 10 in the general population would not like us to change the name, so we’re listening and being respectful for those who disagree, but let’s not forget this is the name of a football team.” Redskins players have been advised not to talk about their opinion on the Redskins name, including quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Above I showed you what the people think about changing or keeping the name. Now I will show you how it will affect the team’s economic situation and team management. Will they be able to keep their name? I’m not sure. When a company tried to sell pork rinds under the name “Redskins Hog Rinds,” the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled that the name “may disparage or bring into contempt or disrepute persons, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols.” The thing is, that same office decided that the pork rinds name was inappropriate gets to decide whether or not the Redskins can keep the trademark for their name. If they say no, the Redskins could lose millions of dollars.

The reason people want to keep the name is because it is a tradition, and the name has been around for a while. The reason people want to get rid of the name is because it is racially offensive to Native Americans. Not only this, but it could affect the team’s economic situation. But I also have a question: If they do decide to change the name, what would the new name be?