OFFENSIVE LOGOS AND NICKNAMES 10
Offensivelogos and Nicknames
Therecent debates as to whether teams with potentially offensive logosand nicknames should change their names in order to be moreculturally aware in the 21stcentury has reached a fever pitch in the recent years. Professionalteams in the United States such as Cleveland Indians and WashingtonRedskins have been adversely affected by these debates. Majority ofthe organizations including civil rights, tribal leaders,Black-American activists and multicultural groups argue that theselogos and nicknames are clearly racist (Rosier 112). They use NativeAmerican imagery in the form of mascots and nicknames. More thanfifty senators in the United States have petitioned for the removalof such names. It is argued that these logos and names have greatimpacts in the modern day society especially to the youngergeneration. In addition, the patent and Trademark offices have in therecent years canceled such logos and nicknames that it considersoffensive (King 120). The argument on whether teams with offensivelogos and nicknames should change their names or not focuses onelements such as history of these organizations, values as well asthe emotions of the parties involved.
Thereare numerous arguments that have been demonstrated claiming that thename should remain. Most people insist that changing the WashingtonRedskins and Cleveland Indians is not an easy task. The team ownersare wealthy rich and very powerful thus taking them is not easy (King155). The names are also related to proud and successfulorganizations in the National Football League, and this makesmillions of people to disagree with the name change. People arguethat the disagreements on whether to amend the names of these teamsis a battle the owners of Washington D.C pro football team, Redskinsand Americans.
Thefirst argument that supports the name is their tradition. It isalleged that the Redskin was not the original name of the team. Inaddition, Washington was neither the hometown of the team. In 1932,the original name and city were Braves and Boston respectively. Thegroup was called Braves due to the baseball team`s use of this name.However, in 1933, the owner of the Braves changed the name toRedskins. It was part of history of the Washington D.C, and it wasthe first name given when it moved there (Rosier 75). The primaryobjective of the name change was to differentiate it with the Bravesbaseball team. When the name was being changed to Redskins, the headcoach was a Native American known as Lone Star Dietz. It is assertedthat the name was used in his honor. However, this argument wasdisputed by a local newspaper article and the owner of the teamclaiming that it was not to merit Dietz or any Native Americanmember. Regardless of the claims, there were no disputes when thename was first introduced (Richman 89). No one challenged the owneror showed that the name was offensive in any way.
Theother argument that most people argue is that the name “Redskin”is not a racial term. They claim that the liberals have hatred andwant to destroy the good image of the team. It is denoted that thename is just like any other name out there for instance Yellow andWhite (Stapleton, 2011). They show that no one has ever used the termin an irrespective way to refer to the Indians. In addition, thesupporters claim that there has been no reported case. They argumentfurther identifies better examples of racial slurs. For instance,civil right activist Jessie Jackson referred to the Jews as “Hymies”and the New York City as the “Hymietown” . It was considered aracial slur due to his racial difference with Coleman.
Thethird argument for Redskin is that it is not an offensive term tomost Native Americans. Studies show that some people are offended bytiny things even if they are not affected directly. It is true to saythat a fraction of the Indians hates the name. However, a research bythe National Annenberg Election Survey in the year 2004 disregardedthe claim. The studies showed that more than 90% of all the NativeAmericans were not aware of the offensive nature of the Redskin nameand they considered it ok. Further, in Oklahoma where it is believedto be the Indians Capital, there is a Redskin stadium that hasexisted for over 50 years. There are also schools that use theRedskin logo and mascot (King 117). A frequently asked question bymost of the people is does it mean that the Indians are ignorant torealize they are being discredited?
Further,majority of the Redskin parties insist that it is not thegovernment`s business to intervene on the issue of the name change.The parties with vested interests in the team say that the debate ispolitically influenced. They claim that the Redskin name does notaffect the lives of the American Indians, communities and families(Rosier 73). They refer to it as any other issue that may arise anddiscussed such as abortion. Everyone has the right to defend eitherof the sides. The truth is that the team will continue to survivewhether the name changes or not. Also, the owners will keepaccumulating more wealth. They believe that the government is beingfunded to get involved in the issue (Richman 41). In addition,senators are petitioning for a change of name. The patent officesalso have been politically influenced to control and denounce someRedskins logo and names. The government should not intervene, butinstead the supporters should decide if the name should exist or not.It will be evidenced when they boycott buying the tickets.
Anotherargument in favor of the Redskins is the there is a close relationbetween the team and the Native Americans than those demonstrating tohave the name changed. Daniel Snyder noted in a public letter thatthe Redskin name has existed for more than Eight decades. During theinauguration, the team had players who were Native Americans hencecould not have used the name to disrespect them. They claimed thatthe name was a badge of respect. He argued that the WashingtonRedskins is a symbol that represents what they believe. It is morethan a name and represents the values that that guide the NativeAmericans such as pride, strength, respect as well as courage(Wilkins 88).
Thefinal argument is that there is no end to this issue. It is theassumption of the liberals that when they demand the name change, theowners will immediately give in to their demands and obey (Richman64). They think that they conform to their requests in order to bringan issue to an end. The same case happened to the military when theliberals demanded that they should as well change the names of theirApache helicopters because they were racists in nature. Previously,the liberals had proposed a change of other team names such asBlackhawks and Chief.
Onthe other hand, the patent office has a duty to decide what logos andnicknames are offensive and which ones to approve. It does not alsosupport names that are similar to those of another company or indispute with any other symbol, belief or person. The trademark givesa company the opportunity to make more money from proceeds from thesale of its merchandise. Despite the change, Redskins can also makemore money because losing the trademark does not necessarily preventthem from selling their products (Hirschfelder et al. 177). It isbelieved that most of the fans have thousands of Redskin andCleveland Indian branded jerseys including hats and teddy bears. TheRedskins should develop a marketing means that will convince theirfans to buy their new clothes with new logo and nickname. On the samepoint, they should create more products bearing their names to createawareness as well as attract new fans.
Theother argument that supports the change of offensive logos and namessuch as the Redskins and the Cleveland Indian is that most peopleoutside the Washington considers these names as inappropriate (King55). A research by a marketing professor Mr. Dan Bruton said thatchanging the name would greatly attract more fans than current. It isbecause most supporters of these teams do not support in public dueto fear of racial discrimination. The other issue argued by theowners of these units is that their existing brand has beenrecognized globally and changing it means that they will lose theirdie-hard fans (Richman 45). According to Mr. Dan, he said that thereare numerous teams previously had such problems with offensive namesand logos, but after transformation, they are more respected andincurred less cost in the transition. After transitioning, the teamshave more fans. Mr. Dan noted that they will only experience aproblem during the initial stages but later on when everyone forgetsabout the issue more people will be lining for the new brands.
Mostsports professionals say that the Redskins are trying to maintaintheir childhood fans. They also believe that even though the team isrefusing to change the name now, it will be forced to transform inthe future (Hirschfelder et al.., 34). The reasons could be such asthe sale to another entity or a plaintiff winning a petition tochange the name. Mr. Dan Bruno said that the world we live in iscomplicated, and people sue for no valid reasons. He urged Snyder,who is the owner of Redskins to use a marketing strategy duetransition. For instance, he can publicly announce that the team willchange the name in the coming year. It will allow the company andfans adequate time of transition as well as having a name and logothat does not offend the supporters in any way. The key elements ofthe organization are the players and not the logos. A die-hard fanwill always support his team no matter the circumstances. Ten yearsfrom now the owner of Redskins will be more famous. He will also beconsidered a legend if he agrees to have the name changed. Moreover,Washington D.C will be proud of their team the same way they aretoday (Wilkins 96).
ThePatent office of the United States recently claimed that the name isoffensive to the Native Americans. The government has been involvedin such issues twice whereby the petition to change the name wasdisregarded the first time. This round, the claim has brought theattention of more than fifty senators who are pleading for a change(Stapleton 90). Most researchers argue that the owner of the Redskinsshould allow the name to be changed so that he can retain his legacy.Daniel Snyder, who is currently the owner of the team, is ignorantand claims that he inherited the name from the former proprietor.Snyder has petitioned to the courts to retain the Redskin name. Manybelieve that if he wins the case, he will be personally responsiblefor the name. Snyder has a good reputation with the team and has wonover one hundred titles out of the one hundred and thirty-six. Healso had a total of eight coaches in all the previous fourteenseasons. Football analysts consider this petition as his last chanceto prove his positive public relations (Hirschfelder et al. 81).
Theother argument is based on cost associated with name transitioning.There are legal and other cost involved when acquiring a new logo andname. The process is long and expensive. The same process happenedduring the first attempt when a group of Native Americans sued tohave the Redskin name changed (Richman 74). It took more than 15years to resolve the issue where the Redskins won to retain the name.Numerous companies have undergone the same processes and successfullychanged to more appealing names at lower costs. Sports professors saythat the plaintiff who sued Redskins is represented by an influentiallaw firm that will fight to the end. They argue that the case will becostly to the team as compared to the cost of acquiring a new logoand name.
Somesports professor suggests that there are numerous options that theRedskins can do to protect their legacy. They can twist the name toWashington Red Hogs or similar in order to retain the current nameconnection. An example of a team that changed its name was theWashington Bullets (Hirschfelder et al., 102). They lost their nameto Wizards in 1997 after the rates of violence in the Washington D.Cincreased after the assassination of Israel Prime Minister YitzhakRabin. The prime Minister was a close of friend of the Washington`sBullet owner Abe Pollin. Most people argued that the name was notappropriate because Bullets are used by military men to keep thenation safe. They demonstrated for the name change and finallysucceeded. The professors say that changing the name will affect theteam for a while as compared to retaining the name that will lead toendless debates (Wilkins 66). Some people argue that Redskin is onlya name and has no harm. A study by the Centre for American Progressshowed that the name creates a hostile learning environment. Itlowers the self-esteem of the American-Indian students as well asaffecting their mental health.
Thedebate on change of offensive logos and nicknames has been a hottopic in the United States for the past few months, and differentgroups are demonstrating to have the name changed. For decades,majority of the people including President Obama, senators, fans andNative Americans among others have tried to have the name changed butwithout success. Most argue that the Washington Redskin`s name changecould be a disguised blessing (Rosier 87). According to thearguments, it shows that by retaining the nickname and logo, theRedskins will be doing more harm than good. The move by fiftysenators shows that the reputation of the team is at stake and soonerthan later, the court may rule against their will. In addition, theowner should change the name to save his reputation as well asunnecessary costs that will be incurred fighting a lost battle. Therehave been debated cases of the same kind, and most of theseorganizations decide to change their names to retain theirreputation. The arguments in support of the discussion are baseless.Majority argue that the fans will always be there to support the teamwhether the name changes or not (Wilkins 114). On the other hand, thegroup can ignore all the allegations and demonstrate for thewithdrawal of its name from the law court. The Redskins should alsobe informed of the consequences of the rulings turn against theirwill.
Hirschfelder,A., Molin, P. F., Wakim, Y., & Dorris, M. A. (2010). AmericanIndian Stereotypes in the World of Children: A Reader andBibliography.Lanham: Scarecrow Press.
King,C. R. (2010). TheNative American mascot controversy: A handbook.Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press.
Richman,M. (2012). TheRedskins encyclopedia.Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Rosier,P. C. (2013). NativeAmerican issues.Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.
Stapleton,B. (2011). Redskins:Racial slur or symbol of success?San Jose: Writers Club Press.
Wilkins,D. E., & Stark, H. K. (2011). AmericanIndian politics and the American political system.Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield.