Every week TheAtlantic.com Sports Roundtable discusses a hot-button sports topic of the moment. The conversations are engaging, thoughtful and lively. On Friday, the assembled panel took on the issue of the increasingly controversial–or at least discussed–name of owner Daniel Snyder's Washington, D.C. NFL franchise: the Redskins.
The trio, Patrick Hruby (writer, Sports on Earth and The Atlantic), Jake Simpson (writer, The Atlantic), and Hampton Stevens (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic) discuss the debate over whether the NFL's Washington Redskins should change their name. Here are some highlights from the debate.
Hruby: "As a sportswriter, I've typed and said the word Redskins thousands of times….Each and every one of those times, I have never meant or intended anything offensive…Until recently, I can't say I ever even thought about Native Americans while using the moniker. And that, more than anything, is the problem. This is what we think about indigenous people in the United States of America: We don't….The word Redskin is an obvious, self-evident racial slur. It fails the Full Room test, as in: would you walk into a room full of Native Americans and yell, 'Wassup, Redskins?' Of course not. And that makes it wrong—wrong and embarrassing, really—as a team nickname."
Stevens: "Make the Redskins change their name. All you'll be doing is making Dan Snyder pay to assuage your own guilt. But don't pretend that calling for a mascot name change is brave or hard. Don't act like you are truly helping Native Americans, or ever dream that changing the name of a football team could in any way compensate for this nation's sins towards indigenous peoples. That notion is far more insulting than any racially charged team name ever could be."
Simpson: "Across the four major sports there are the MLB's Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves and the NFL's Redskins and Kansas City Chiefs….Just imagine if we had the equivalent team names for, say, black people in Louisiana or Jews in Brooklyn. Snyder and others have argued that Native American titles are OK because of a franchise's proud tradition. But shouldn't the real traditions to worry about be the ones that American frontiersmen obliterated while virtually exterminating the 'redskins' and then naming their team after them?"
Read the entire conversation by clicking here. And share your thoughts about the Sports Roundtable's debate with ICTMN by commenting below.