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home : sports : local April 30, 2016

5/29/2014 6:00:00 AM
Washington name change is long overdue

Shawn Byrne
Miner Staff Reporter

There is a biblical verse that has always challenged me. Proverbs 18:24 says "a man who has friends must show himself friendly." In the world of sports, I understand it to mean that in no way, shape or form should sports ever offend anyone.

That brings me into the squabble surrounding the Washington, D.C. franchise of the National Football League.

The Washington football team needs to find a new mascot. There are many organizations that support Native American causes and are being outspoken about the name change, including the Navajo Nation Council, the National Congress of American Indians and the Oneida Indian Nation. These are representatives for the Native American community, and they should have the right to demand a change if a mascot disparages them in any way.

Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington franchise, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell cite a poll that says nine out of 10 Native Americans state that the Washington mascot is "acceptable." Goodell explained at a news conference that the mascot name "has honored Native Americans."

According to, there are 5.2 million Native Americans residing in the U.S. Even if Snyder's and Goodell's poll is correct, that leaves more than 500,000 people who are directly affected by what they consider a slur.

When NBA commissioner Adam Silver took decisive action against Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling because of his outdated views on minorities, Goodell was one of the first to praise Silver for his actions. He was eager to commend Silver, but he continues to defend the use of a term that was used back in the days when the U.S. government was conquering the West.

Snyder defends keeping the current mascot because of tradition. He says that because it has been the mascot for 82 years, the name brings with it a deep-rooted sense of tradition and pride. That is not a reason to keep a mascot that offends people.

During the evolution of our country, we have reversed course on many longstanding traditions and laws. Imagine in 1861 if this argument had been found worthy regarding slavery - would we still be known as a slave-owning country? How about in 1919 and 1920? If this had been the argument that proved to win the day, would our grandmothers, mothers, aunts and sisters be allowed to vote?

The true test to see if the Washington mascot offends people can take place right up the road on Route 66 in Peach Springs. Go have lunch at the Hualapai Lodge and enjoy some Navajo tacos. While there, be sure to call each and every Native American you meet by the Washington mascot name. And feel free to let me know how that turns out.

This brings me to a couple of conclusions. First, if I follow the NFL this season as religiously as I have in the past (Go, Cards!), am I just like Goodell? A hypocrite who talks a good talk but can't walk the walk?

Secondly, I realize this is all a backdrop as to why we haven't experienced a true first contact with other living beings in our universe. Why would beings from other planets reach out to us if all we're going to do is offend them?

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2014
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

"and they should have the right to demand a name change...."

You're a writer? lol Who has said they do not not have the right to demand a name change. Their 1st Amendment right to speak out and demand anything does not mean they should get what they want, there are courts for that.

So when, Mr. Byrne, will we be seeing your column in which you are insisting that the Red Mesa H.S. here in AZ, which is almost entirely native American, get rid of their "Redskins" mascot? Certainly you are outraged over that as well, right? They just need a guilty white liberal to steer them on the right course.

What Sterling should do is change the name to "The Crusaders", then sit back and watch while guilty white liberal and muslim heads EXPLODE. The immediate poutrage would be fun to watch.


Posted: Friday, June 6, 2014
Article comment by: Indian Law

Remember the Little Big Horn. That's right remember?, we are one nation under god, so why don't we just respect each others lifestyles.

Posted: Saturday, May 31, 2014
Article comment by: biker randy

My son has red hair, get's sunburned easily, and has been a big Redskin fan his whole football fan life. Is he going to have to find a new team to root for if they lose their name?

That's how stupid this is.

Posted: Saturday, May 31, 2014
Article comment by: Highly Amused

I'm half Lakota Sioux. There's too many 'politically correct' people in this world with extremely thin skins. These people should really stop becoming so offended at every little thing.

Posted: Saturday, May 31, 2014
Article comment by: THE REALITY OF TODAY

The reason it is now "offensive" and not for the past 80 years, is that now it is an occupation to be "offended" Ask the Rev. J or Big Al. There's a lot of folks with major money on the line. They've found a controversial person in Dan Snyder who they are pretty sure won't come out and defend the team anymore for fear of bad press. And what the hell is a KDM reporter commenting on this for in the 1st place. I happen to also be a major advertiser in the KDM and think maybe everyone would be better served spending a little more time on local, relevant stories, rather than trying to make a name riding on the coattails of someone else's.

Posted: Friday, May 30, 2014
Article comment by: Jack A. Lope

""The council’s statement of opposition also applies to “disparaging references” to American Indians in other professional sports franchises. But it does not apply to college or high school mascots. The mascot for at least one high school on the Navajo Nation is the Redskins

Posted: Friday, May 30, 2014
Article comment by: LIFELONG SKINS FAN

I've been a Washington Redskins for 42 years now. I can tell you first hand, that to me, the most offensive part of the name is Washington.

Posted: Friday, May 30, 2014
Article comment by: Guillermo Tarango

Most Native Americans don't consider the name offensive. And the Washington Redskins are not using it in an offensive way. Several schools on Native American reservations call themselves the Redskins. It is an honorable name.

Posted: Thursday, May 29, 2014
Article comment by: Brandi Allen

Wow. Did you really get paid to write that column? I am Choctaw and am not offended by the word 'redskin'. I can't speak for all Native Americans, but for me personally, it is just another word that is being targeted due to political correctness. I, for one, cannot stand political correctness. This country should wake up and realize that as adults, we don't need to have a babysitter looking over everyone's shoulder to make sure that no one gets their underwear in a wad due to the use of some words. Don't like the word? Then don't use it. Don't agree with someone else's opinion? Well, the thing about that it, it is THEIR opinion. Before you know it, schools will no longer be allowed to give out grades or awards or even diplomas because they just might offend some kid who didn't even bother to do the work. So long spelling bees, sports trophies, wages, and free thinking. This is no longer the land of the free, more like the land of the "Oh, I better not say that" mindset.

Posted: Thursday, May 29, 2014
Article comment by: Enough is Enough

I am so tired of all this political correctness speech. It has become that no one knows what to say or not say anymore. Should we also change the Chicago Blackhawk's name too or how about renaming the peanut that is also called Redskins? Enough is enough.

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