DEBATE: Redskins should keep their name

“We are Redskins Nation and we owe it to our fans and coaches and players, past and present, to preserve that heritage.” That is how Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder closed his recent open letter to fans of his American Football team.

One of the most talked about stories in the United States at the moment, not just the NFL, is whether or not the Washington Redskins should change their team name.

Many argue that the term “Redskin” is a derogatory term towards Native Americans.  However, in his letter, Mr Snyder stated that a poll which talked to nearly 1,000 Native Americans concluded that 90 per cent of them did not find the Redskins name to be offensive.

He also added that an AP poll earlier this year, found 79 per cent of respondents said they didn’t have a problem with the name “Redskins” and that only 11 per cent believed that it should be changed.

The Washington Redskins in training camp, lead by Quarterback Robert Griffin III (yellow). Image by Keith Allison on flickr
The Washington Redskins in training camp, lead by Quarterback Robert Griffin III (yellow). Image by Keith Allison on flickr

In situations like this, all evidence must be considered before forming an opinion.

The team have been known as the Redskins since 1932, and they’ve been the Washington Redskins since 1937.  In this time, the team have won five world championships, three of which were SuperBowls, the most recent of these coming in 1991.  Changing the team’s name will mean a loss of their history, starting off on a brand new slate.

After several years in the mire of mediocrity in the NFL, a place no team wants to find themselves, the Redskins are now a marketable franchise again.  According to Forbes, the Redskins are the fifth most valuable team worldwide, in any sport.

The acquisition of quarterback Robert Griffin III in last year’s draft was crucially important for the revival of the Redskins brand.  Griffin lead the team to the playoffs for the first time since 2007.  His jersey is the fifth best-selling jersey throughout the entire league.  FedEx Field, the Redskins home stadium, which holds 91,704 spectators, is reaching capacity for every home game.  The Redskins currently have a marketability level that very few other NFL teams can compete with, not just in America but internationally as well.

An American flag sprawled across the pitch at FedEx Field before a Redskins home game. Image by Jeremy Thoel on flickr
An American flag sprawled across the pitch at FedEx Field before a Redskins home game. Image by Jeremy Thoel on flickr

Changing the team name means an entire rebranding on all levels.  It is eliminating all possible aspects of growth in income and completely starting anew.  It means having to re-establish sponsorship deals.

While it is not uncommon for American sports teams to change their name, it is usually only a process carried out by teams who are struggling, both in competition and financially.  While the Redskins may be struggling on the field at the moment, there is still plenty of time for them to turn their season around.  Off the field, the future is very bright for the Redskins. The Washington Redskins, not the Washington (insert possible team name here).

2 thoughts on “DEBATE: Redskins should keep their name

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