Racism sadly pops its head up on a regular basis in sport around the world, despite massive efforts by the majority to stamp it out.
Many people will be aware that the Washington Redskins have been the target for protest groups for a number of years, trying to force them to remove the name “Redskins” as it is now considered a racial slur.
In fact yesterday the district lawmakers in Washington voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to call on the team to change it, saying it is widely recognized as “racist and derogatory.”
The Redskins have won five NFL Championships including three Superbowls and have played over 1000 NFL games, and many believe that heritage should remain.
The team started life as the Boston Braves, based in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1932. At that time they played in Braves Field, the home of the Boston Braves baseball team. The following year they moved to Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, and this was when the owners changed the team’s name to the Boston Redskins. The Redskins relocated to Washington, D.C. in 1937, where they have remained ever since. The club having been known as the Redskins now for 76 years.
The term “Redskin” was used throughout the English-speaking world throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as a common term of reference for indigenous Americans. There are many who claim that the term did not originally having negative intent, but the term today is defined by many dictionaries as “usually offensive”, “disparaging”, “insulting”, or “taboo.” It is also to be avoided in public usage.
Despite President Obama saying that he would change the name if he owned the team, the current owner Daniel Snyder has said he is not considering changing the name, calling it a “badge of honor,” and NFL officials have told Native American leaders that they continue to stand by the name.
The Unofficial mascot for the team is an African American Zema Williams known as Chief Zee who has been attending games since 1978 dressed in a “Red Indian” costume complete with tomahawk and feathered headdress. The Kansas City Chiefs and Baseball’s Cleveland Indians as well as the Atlanta Braves are also now under fire for having an Indian theme.
The question is if these names do change will the trend spread across the globe?
Snyder has stated that the club has held discussions with the Native Americans and there was ‘ambivalence’ towards the name change.
Should the club have to change its name? If it does will it be the end of the lolly with the same name in Australia and New Zealand. Watch this space.