Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Washington Redskins Get A Victory!

So far this season the Washington Redskins are 3-6 on the football field and 1-0 in the courtroom. The courtroom? What's this about?

Oh boy! This is one of those politically correct/sensitive issues type of story that many people stay away from. But being the nonpolitical dude that I am, well, let's just say, I'll throw in my two cents about it. Quite frankly, this (non) issue has been going on forever and I'm glad the Redskins won the court battle on Monday.

A quick bio: As early as the late-80s, a group of Native Americans have had issues with sports teams using Native American names and logos. They say the logos are insensitive and offensive. So in 1992, a group of American Indians sued the Redskins and asked the courts to force them to change their name on the grounds that it violates their civil rights. Initially they won, but then a U.S. District Judge overturned the decision. Apparently the case had some strong legs because the group was able to appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, on Monday the Supreme Court rejected their appeal, thus ending the 17-year battle and handing the Redskins a victory. I mean, where else can the group go? The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land-- if they turn you down, its over. Go home and find something else to do.

Anyway, like I said, this issue has been around for a while. The only program that I'm aware of that has actually caved in to these disgruntled Native American groups is the University of St. John's. Their teams are now called the Redstorm-- but remember, they were once called the Redmen. But out of political correctness, St. John's decided to change their name. What can I say? That's their prerogative. All I know is that the St. John's Redmen were once a force to be reckoned with in college basketball and after they became the Redstorm, let's just say, they have disappeared into intergalactic space. Who knows-- maybe its all coincidence.

But anyway--

A quick note: This group (who's offended by the Redskins name) is a small group. In 2002, Sports Illustrated commissioned a poll which found that 75% of those Native Americans surveyed had no objection to the Redskins' name. Furthermore, in 2004, a poll conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania found that 91% of American Indians surveyed found the Redskins' name acceptable.

So my question is: Who else is on the group's radar? The Cleveland Indians? The Chicago Blackhawks? The Atlanta Braves? The Florida State Seminoles? Furthermore, what is their beef? If anything they should feel proud. I know I would be, if my ancestry was kept alive by a major sports organization.

Using their logic--

Shouldn't Irish-Americans be offended by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish or the Boston Celtics? But I don't hear them beefing.

And shouldn't the people of Scandinavia be offended by the Minnesota Vikings? I don't hear them beefing. And shouldn't Mexican-Americans be offended by the San Diego State Aztecs? I don't hear them beefing either.

Anyway, I think you get my point.

Lastly, the Redskins aren't out of the woods just yet. The word is that a new group is going to open up a new case from scratch. Since the old group has exhausted all of their avenues, I guess they think a group of fresh faces may have better luck.

In my opinion, I get the feeling that in 17 years we'll be reading about the Supreme Court turning down their appeal also.

To be continued....

Photos and stats courtesy of Wikipedia


  1. I agree, I'm glad they didn't win and I'm part Native American. People are so uptight about stuff that is so irrelevant in this world. Shoot, if anything they should feel proud that teams are named after Native Americans. What other culture has teams named after them? All of these teams are named after them because that culture is seen as warriors, which is what athletes strive to be, it's not negative in any way in my opinion.

  2. Great point, Charley. The warrior-athlete connection is an excellent way of looking at it. Like I said in the post, based on surveys, most Native Americans are not offended as you just concurred by using yourself as an example. Its just a small group. They exist in all cultures. Personally, I see it as a positive thing also.