“Objections to names like Braves, Chiefs, Warriors and the like strike many of us as political correctness run amok. These nicknames honor rather than demean. They’re pretty much the same as Vikings, Patriots or even Cowboys. And names like Blackhawks, Seminoles and Chippewas, while potentially more problematic, can still be OK, provided the symbols are appropriately respectful, which is where the Cleveland Indians, with the combination of their name and Chief Wahoo logo, have sometimes run into trouble.
“A number of teams, mostly in the college ranks, have changed their names in response to objections. The Stanford Cardinal and the Dartmouth Big Green were each once the Indians. The St. John’s Redmen have become the Red Storm. And the Miami of Ohio Redskins—that’s right, Redskins — are now the Redhawks. Still, the NFL franchise that represents the nation’s capital has maintained its name.
“Think for a moment about the term ‘Redskins’ and how it truly differs from all the others. Ask yourself what the equivalent would be if directed toward African Americans, Hispanics, Asians or members of any other ethnic group. When considered that way, Redskins can’t possibly honor a heritage or a noble character trait, nor can it possibly be considered a neutral term.
“It’s an insult, a slur, no matter how benign the present-day intent. It’s fair to say that for a long time now, and certainly in 2013, no offense has been intended. But if you take a step back, isn’t it clear to see how offense might legitimately be taken?”
–Bob Costas, NBC Sports
“Obviously, people get pretty attached to team names, mascots. You know, I don’t think there are any Redskins fans that mean offense. I’ve got to say, if I were the owner of the team, and I knew that there was a name of my team, even if it had a storied history, that was offending a sizable group of people, I’d think about changing it.”
–U.S. President Barack Obama