Commentary: It’s Really Time to Dump the “Redskins”

The infamous football team’s owner says he will “never” change the name of the Redskins in spite of people’s best efforts.

Posted: 05/13/2013 08:00 AM EDT

Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder is well known as one of the most hated people in professional sports, partially because of his perceived arrogance. He once sued the Washington City Paper for writing a story about him without even taking the time to read the story. This week, Snyder once again put that arrogance on display.

In a new interview with USA Today, Snyder was asked if he might ever consider the team’s name, a racial slur for Native Americans that has long been an offensive term. Snyder’s response? “Never.”

“We will never change the name of the team,” Snyder said. “As a lifelong Redskins fan, and I think that the Redskins fans understand the great tradition and what it’s all about and what it means, so we feel pretty fortunate to be just working on next season.”


“We'll never change the name. It's that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”

Snyder’s latest angry response about why his team is named after a racial slur comes on the heels of a new lawsuit attempting to strip the franchise of its federal trademark protections under a law banning registered names that are “disparaging, scandalous, contemptuous or disreputable,” according to CBS News.

Less recently, the NCAA has slowly been culling Native American mascots from its ranks, and in 2012 the state of Oregon banned Native American mascots entirely.

In short, it looks more and more as if Dan Snyder and people like him are going to be on the wrong side of history. Unfortunately, there are many people like him: A recent Associated Press poll found that nearly four out of every five Americans found the Redskins name acceptable, with only 11 percent believing it should go.

Like Snyder, many poll respondents cited tradition for why it made sense to keep the name Redskins. “That’s who they’ve been forever,” said one. “That’s who they’re known as.”

It’s an interesting thing to hear people lend so much worth to tradition. There was a time in America when owning slaves was a tradition. There was a time in America when banning Catholics from marrying Jews was a tradition. There was even a time when it was a tradition to not allow women to work. “That’s just how things have always been,” people said. “So why go changing it now?”

Some traditions are certainly important to keep around—perhaps cooking a particular food on Christmas Eve—but always deferring to tradition above progress, reason, and decency is ridiculous, particularly when your traditions show tremendous disrespect to the culture and humanity of others.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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(Photo: AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

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