The Endless Debate


You can count on one hand the number of people who have made a reasonable defense of maintaining Native American names for sports teams. Rick Reilly is not one of them.

Reilly is an inherently dumb analyst who doesn't do nuance or reasonable. He spouts off things like this in the middle of and endless stream of self-serving bullshit:
[...] even though an Annenberg Public Policy Center poll found that 90 percent of Native Americans were not offended by the Redskins name, and even though linguists say the "redskins" word was first used by Native Americans themselves, and even though nobody on the Blackfeet side of my wife's family has ever had someone insult them with the word "redskin," it doesn't matter. There's no stopping a wave of PC-ness when it gets rolling.
Polls can be skewed to demonstrate whatever the people paying for that poll want it to say. Reilly's attempt to personalize the debate is ridiculous because Native Americans are distributed throughout different regions. What might be acceptable for a tribe in Montana is vastly different from something know to a tribe that originated in a different part of the country. Cultural differences and linguistic differences are vast when it comes to Native Americans so the etymology of the term doesn't apply. It is not politically correct to object to the use of Native American terms for sports teams. It is, in point of fact, a demeaning act of cultural insensitivity. This is precisely because the Native Americans were not celebrated, elevated or triumphant, ever. They were removed, subjugated, and allowed to die off in massive numbers. When you adopt their names and images and use them to celebrate sports teams, all you are doing is relegating them to the status of mascot.

In the case of the Redskins, they use a racial term, not a tribal name or term, as their mascot. That's why the Seminoles in Florida have no problem with Florida State's use of the name and why the debate is far more nuanced than people realize.

I'm not able to add anything new here but I will say this--it's about money. Culture and other considerations need not apply. Money talks. The Redskins are too valuable for the franchise to survive a name change. There is too much wrapped up in merchandising and marketing to even consider a change. The Redskins franchise is worth over a billion dollars, depending on who you believe, and that is why you won't see a change until if affects the bottom line. No one cares about right or wrong when you're talking about a billionaire's plaything.

No amount of arguing or logic will change the monetary considerations that are driving this debate. Rick Reilly has made an attempt to subvert the racism in this case and he has failed to make a dent in the logic of changing the name. If it wasn't for the money, the name would have changed long ago.