Saturday, August 12, 2006

All of my heros have been Redskins

Another Native American group is making a federal case of "Redskins" as the name of Washington's favorite sports team. They seek to remove trademark protection from the use of the Washington Redskins name and logo. I hope they lose.

Say Redskins to me and to a lot of other people around here, and neither Sitting Bull nor Geronimo come to mind. Clinton Portis and Joe Gibbs do. I think of my boyhood heros Bobby Mitchell, Charley Taylor and Sonny Jurgensen; and of my father, the hero who first took me to Redskins games. Ask someone in Washington to finish the phrase "dirty, stinkin' _______," and you'll get "Cowboys," not redskins. Not all cowboys, mind you; just those dirty, stinkin' Dallas people.

"Washington Redskins" does not mean what the plaintiff say it means. They refer to an archaic meaning from an unsavory aspect of America's past. In doing so, they discount the current use of the word. Sports teams, particularly football teams, are named for predators (Lions, Bears, Eagles), criminals (Vikings, Raiders, Buccaneers, Outlaws) and the heavily testosterone-laden (Bulls/Texans, Cowboys, Rams). The Washington Redskins assert that the name evokes a warrior spirit and this in a time when Native American warriors are thought of in a more positive light. The Washington team has studiously distanced itself from the antics of some it's more strident fans.

Many team names have issues. I met a woman from Sweden who could not understand why anyone would to refer to themselves as a viking. The connotation in Scandinavia is far different than here. Pirates and Buccaneers were the scum of the earth. I keep waiting for someone to accuse the Washington Wizards of Satanism. It's not all in the name. Minnesotans do not advocate raids on the coast of Europe. The people in Tampa Bay do not plunder ships. The Washingon basketball team does not worship the Devil, even when they play like hell. Technically, it's the Bison Bills (I just threw that in). These names mean nothing except to convey a fighting spirit. I want to be a Redskin. I'm not good enough, but if I were, I'd wear the name like a badge.

Word meaning evolves. I hope and trust that the courts weigh the modern connotation of "Redskins" along with what it used to mean. As to the logo, it is no more offensive than US government currency.

Losing the name means losing "Hail to the Redskins." That's too much to ask.
Other Bloggers' Opinion:
Anti-Redskins - the Curley R
Pro-Redskins - The DC Universe



Brandon Kriner said...

Nice post. Even though I don't agree with you, you've supported your argument well. One thing I'm sure we can agree on...let's get ready for some football!

-Brandon (Curly R author)

Brandon Kriner said...

Also, I've linked to your blog on my blogroll. I'd be honored if you'd link back to the Curly R in your blogroll.