FanDuel - WFBC

July 14, 2008

Judge Sides with Redskins: The Washington Redskins have won the latest round in a 16-year court battle against a group of American Indians, prevailing on a technicality that again skirts the issue of whether the teamís nickname is racially offensive. In a ruling dated June 25 and first circulated Thursday, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled that the youngest of the seven Native American plaintiffs waited too long after turning 18 to file the lawsuit that attempts to revoke the Redskins trademarks.

posted by billsaysthis to culture at 09:52 AM - 26 comments

A topic much-discussed here, American jurisprudence once again finds a way to duck the real issue in favor of the always-popular technicality. Fortunately, another lawsuit waits in the wings which doesn't suffer from the legal defect raised here. But in the wonderland of our legal system who can tell what white rabbits await?

posted by billsaysthis at 09:55 AM on July 14

While I'm about as anti-"political correctness" as there is, I can completely understand people being against the "Redskins" name, since "redskin" is generally considered a derogatory term. I can also understand some disagreement about tribal names (Seminoles, Fighting Sioux, etc.) if the tribe itself doesn't approve. But general names like "Indians", "Chiefs" and "Warriors" should be left alone. Just my opinion.

posted by TheQatarian at 10:42 AM on July 14

The discussions we've had on native American team names have been some of the more interesting we've had on Spofi over the years, IMO, because while there's a certain amount of hot air, we've also had some changes on people's thinking as a result of looking more closely at/getting more information on the issue. Not every topic on Spofi has that kind of depth, but it's nice when we do get one to see the kind of thoughtful discussion that's taken place over this one. I confess that I'm a bit baffled at the sheer stubbornness of the Washington team's ownership on this issue. With the caveat that I don't know the team's fan base, I don't get the sense that there's a passionate attachment to the mascot, to the point where chucking it in favor of something else would be problematic in terms of fan loyalty. Rather, it seems like it might be an opportunity for a team that's been plagued with some difficulties in recent years to reinvent itself, and I'm not sure why they're not taking it.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 12:35 PM on July 14

IMHO, "Redskins" is the most derogatory, offensive and unacceptable sports team name in our country. It should really be changed.

posted by gnutron at 01:02 PM on July 14

As a member of the Cherokee Nation I was quite pleased and happy with the majority of the content of discussions on spofi concerning the subjects of Native American team names and mascots. You give me some hope for the future. It never ceases to amaze me that a society could condemn the hateful and derogatory terms for every other ethnicity but turn a blind eye to its use in regard to Native Americans. I firmly believe that it is our lack of Native American movie stars, allstar athletes, and other celebrities who could easily heighten public awareness of this issue. (somewhat tongue in cheek) And Qatarian, the words chiefs, warriors, and even indians is not the issue. Those words are now used in so many other contexts, indeed warriors and chiefs are considered universal. No, its the emblems normally associated with these names that create the conflict. Next to the Washington Redskins, the Cleveland Indians logo is the most derogatory. steps off soapbox now with word of thanks to spofi community

posted by irunfromclones at 01:03 PM on July 14

It never ceases to amaze me that a society could condemn the hateful and derogatory terms for every other ethnicity but turn a blind eye to its use in regard to Native Americans. I don't think we're alone in having blind spots in our awareness of bigotry. I suspect all societies have their "acceptable bigotries" that are just as damaging and make no more logical sense than the forms of bigotry that that society considers unacceptable. I think, though, that from a purely pragmatic and selfish viewpoint, it's not something we in the United States can afford to leave unexamined. We're a de facto multicultural society living under a legal system that only acknowledges a single class of citizenship -- we can't survive and thrive if we allow "acceptable bigotries" to stand unchallenged.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 01:53 PM on July 14

What makes it even more baffling is that another Washington team did change its name eleven years ago. The Washington Bullets were so called because the team called the Bullets moved there from Baltimore. The name 'Baltimore Bullets' made sense because of the alliterative properties of the two Bs in the name. The original Baltimore franchise, also called the Bullets, was an early member of the NBA, but the franchise folded in the early 1950s. By the way, irunfromclones, well said. A round of polite applause is heard as irunfromclones descends from the soapbox.

posted by Howard_T at 02:53 PM on July 14

The Washington Bullets were so called because the team called the Bullets moved there from Baltimore. As I mentioned earlier, the team owner seems to have had a different reason than the alliterative properties of the name. In 1995, owner Abe Pollin announced that the franchise was to be renamed because Bullets carried violent overtones, which he wanted to repudiate,[1] especially since Washington was experiencing some of the highest homicide rates in the country at the time. Was the name change just an excuse to have another alliterative name (Washington Wizards)? Maybe. But I can tell you, having lived there for three years in the late eighties, that DC was the murder capital of the US, and there were very many DC residents who hated the name "Bullets" because of the violence in the city. If enough DC residents hated the name "Redskins" as much as they did "Bullets," the name would be changed sooner rather than later.

posted by cjets at 03:45 PM on July 14

cjets, I didn't mean to leave the impression that the move was the only reason to change the name. "Bullets" was indeed a wrong image, and that, coupled with the fact that the name really no longer made sense, drove the change.

posted by Howard_T at 04:45 PM on July 14

Although I think the entire nation could take a giant 'chill pill' when it comes to racial sensitivity, I must agree with all of the sentiment expressed above. There is little doubt that the word redskin was used as a derogatory term when it became commonplace in the English language. I confess that I'm a bit baffled at the sheer stubbornness of the Washington team's ownership on this issue. Continuing the use in any way is indeed offensive and I too think that the Washington NFL franchise could easily change their name without losing a single fan; if they could field a team that wins regularly. How about this: Snyder and the GM can take their precious team name, logo, and pathetic record and all go home....just a thought...

posted by knowsalittle at 05:26 PM on July 14

and there were very many DC residents who hated the name "Bullets" because of the violence in the city. If enough DC residents hated the name "Redskins" as much as they did "Bullets," the name would be changed sooner rather than later. I lived in DC for 35 years and have no recollection whatsoever of a movement to rename the Bullets until Abe Pollin mentioned it. I am in favor of the Washington NFL franchise changing its name but highly doubt the movement will arise from the fan base who love their fight song so much. Which is why these court battles seem to be the last resort. I wish everyone involved in the renaming fight good luck. As an aside, I wish that when teams move from one city to another they would be required to change the name. The Lakers, the Jazz, the Rams, etc. Yuck. The Browns seem to be the exception.

posted by scully at 05:34 PM on July 14

I have also lived in DC for many years, including years where the Bullets changed their name and the Redskins refuse to change theirs. I never heard a peep in the press, at games or by word of mouth about the name "Bullets" being offensive in any manner. Their original slogan was "faster than a speeding bullet" or something like that. Many Washingtonians believe that Abe Pollin changed the name as a marketing strategy (Bullets were at or near the bottom in sales of tickets and merchandise). I can understand the name change however, if the owner felt it impacted negatively on his franchise. On the other hand I have been hearing the protests about the Redskins name for as long as I can remember. I remember my mom sitting me down one day at a very young age and telling me why the name was so offensive. Afterwards I never rooted for the team and never will. The biggest reason Dan Snyder will not change the name has nothing to do with the history of the team and everything to do with his favorite thing in the world, the dollar sign. The Redskins are one of the most valuable franchises in sports and their merchandise sales are always in the top tier. There is no way Snyder would risk changing the name, no matter how offensive it is. I personally think he would bring on many more fans and maybe even help resurrect his image, as people in DC despise him as do most true Washington fans. Maybe with a name change it would remove "The Curse of the Danny" as it is known in DC.

posted by MMAFighter/Coach at 06:30 PM on July 14

With the right spin a good PR firm could make Dan Snyder look like a hero for changing the name, and a good marketing firm would turn a name change under those circumstances into a veritable gold mine. Where's the down side? acknowledges polite applause upon descending soapbox with royal wave modified for democracy

posted by irunfromclones at 06:48 PM on July 14

If I implied that there was some "movement" to change the name of the Bullets, then I was incorrect and guilty of hyperbole. However, (and maybe this was living in S.E. DC in the late eighties), there were plenty of other people that found the name "Bullets" offensive in the murder capital of the U.S. George Vecsey on why Abe Pollin changed the name. A Yahoo poll on the name change Sorry for the derail.

posted by cjets at 06:49 PM on July 14

I think that if the Washington owner really wanted to increase revenue, that a name and logo change would really boost profits. Much like the uniform change did for the entire NHL.

posted by MrFrisby at 06:53 PM on July 14

I have no problem with Uncle Abe changing the name of the Bullets to Wizards, regardless of the reasons. Irunfromclones, thanks for good insight on the subject. I agree with you and MrFrisby in the aspect that if Dan Snyder was a "man" he would change the name and secure a better image. He would still get "throwback" rights for old jerseys and encourage fans to buy new merchandise with a name change. I just do not see him as a man of integrity. He is in it for the dollars and he sees them coming in. He will not jeopardize that even if it means people think higher of him or are willing to purchase new stuff. He is not a risk taker. He now is trying to corner the sports radio market in DC so that all employees are his and no one can criticize him anymore. I hope the new lawsuits will force him to change the name of the Washington football franchise. Maybe the new commish should throw around his attempt to "clean up the league" and force the team to change its name under financial penalty or loss of franchise if it is not done quickly. I think that may be the best solution that will not drag on in courts forever. If the Commish is serious about cleaning up the sport- how about spreading some input into changing the racist name of the Washington football franchise.

posted by MMAFighter/Coach at 10:57 PM on July 14

Snyder is a fool. The name needs to go.

posted by dviking at 11:57 PM on July 14

I think all of you have good points as to why the name should be changed. So the question now is what the new name should be. Let's give ol' Danny Boy a list of suggestions for his new team name. I'll go first: Washington Wombats (see what I did there with the W's - I know Howard T noticed)

posted by BoKnows at 12:34 AM on July 15

Washington Wombats On behalf of all ground dwelling, nocturnal, antipodean, vegetarian marsupials I support this nomination. /eats roots and leaves.

posted by owlhouse at 01:01 AM on July 15

Washington Wombats On behalf of all ground dwelling, nocturnal, antipodean, vegetarian marsupials I support this nomination. /eats roots and leaves. The Washington Pandas. /eats shoots and leaves. Or would that be the Washington Bullets?

posted by tommytrump at 10:06 PM on July 15

/eats shoots and leaves. Or would that be the Washington Bullets? One of the thirteen reasons why I like spofi so much.

posted by irunfromclones at 12:06 PM on July 16

I've learned not to drink and read sportsfi so no one owes me a new keyboard.

posted by Monica Poland at 12:33 PM on July 16

One of the thirteen reasons why I like spofi so much. Only thirteen?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 01:09 PM on July 16

Only thirteen? I know, but each one is a really good reason.

posted by irunfromclones at 03:04 PM on July 16

With sub-categories, and stuff.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 10:24 AM on July 17

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