The Washington Redskins And The Debate Around Their Team Name

For as long as anyone can remember, the Washington Redskins name has been thrown around by sports fans and commentators alike, until Spring of 2014 when a native-American organization decided to file suit against the name because it was offensive to native-Americans. This started a debate and pressure against the team owners to adjust to a new mindset to do away with the defamatory name.

It's interesting to note that there has been a generational gap between when the name was used as slang and eased into everyday nomenclature, where little attention was paid to what the name actually meant. Here we look at certain points about the debate.

The Team's History With Controversy

Those who remember the team's previous controversy during the Kennedy administration, know that this isn't the only time the team has been put in a bad light. In 1961 the then owner of the team, George Preston Marshall, refused to integrate the team with black players even with force from the federal government to where they would not be allowed to play in the D.C. Stadium. It was in 1962 that the team were the last to integrate, which has left a mark in their history of being resilient against common sense.

The Name Calling

Despite the integration problem, the name has always been controversial but never really put in the current context of consensus until recently. In reality, native-American organizations have been trying to get the name changed since the 1940's and in the 90's they were able to get copyright protection removed from the name. This was restored before it was removed again, and has constantly been appealed by the team owners.


It's unfortunate that it takes this kind of pressure for others to follow the lead. Some sportscasters have chimed in on this issue as well stating that it was time to move forward and get rid of the name. Very recently, the department of justice has taken up the case under Eric Holder to investigate this litigation. It's very likely in this case, since he has stated that the name should be changed, that it would take the DOJ to force them to do so. As stated before, it might be the last defense being put into federal hands.

The Changing Times

Essentially all of these debates are pushed one way or the other under a changing context. It's in this situation that it would take a large majority of the population to see what the name means and employ some empathy into the impact that name calling has, before more people can agree that the name means more than just a team. Perhaps in the context, it refers to a team of bullies.