To keep or drop the name of the NFL franchise based in Washington, DC? That is the question.
The name — "Redskins," considered the worst racial slur directed at American Indians — is becoming a regular subject for Washington Post sportswriters and columnists, and raw meat for commenters at washingtonpost.com. The writers are in favor of scrapping the name; readers who take the time to comment on the story tend to be violently opposed to a change, bemoaning "political correctness" and liberal media bias.
It's sports. Fans — short for fanatics — are passionate by definition. And since it's sports, perhaps a few stats are in order:
Courtland Milloy, "Gridiron glory will never be ours again with a team named the 'Redskins'" (2/7): 875 comments
Robert McCartney, "Drop ‘Redskins’ name? Time to take a stand." (2/6): 3,387 comments
Courtland Milloy, "Washington Redskins and Negro Mountain: Two offensive names that need to be changed" (1/29): 516 comments
Mike Wise, "Only RGIII can make the Redskins change their name. Here’s why he won’t." (1/11): 2,452 comments
Courtland Milloy, "What’s in a name? The Redskins’ bad karma" (1/8): 1,266 comments
That's a lot of reader comments. Suffice it to say, this is a debate that isn't going away any time soon. History and popular sentiment among non-Redskins fans — hey, it's easy to advocate the change as long as it's not your team — seem to be on the side of the columnists. Kevin Gover, director of the National Museum of the American Indian, said as much prior to a recent symposium on racist stereotypes in sports. "I have no doubt that in a decade or two, these mascots will all be gone," Gover told the Smithsonian Institute's blog. Several of the panelists at the February 7 event voiced a similar sentiment.
A recent story in the Washington Post is slightly discouraging to those advocating a name change: D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, who helped kick off this round of the debate with comments supporting a name change, is now "backing off" that stance. “The point I was trying to make at the time was . . . it’s sitting on federal land,” Gray said. “You know that issue will come up if that’s the proposal, to build the stadium there. That was the point I was making.”