By Ken Reed
The Huffington Post
November 11, 2013
The ongoing debate over the Washington Redskins nickname is tiresome.
It’s tiresome because it’s inevitable that the team name will be changed, no matter what Washington team owner Dan Snyder says. It’s just a matter of time. Clearly, Snyder’s contention that the team nickname is a “badge of honor” is patently absurd. Using a derogatory racial term as a professional sports franchise’s nickname — in our nation’s capitol no less — is simply wrong. And while it’s frustrating that it’s taking so long, it will be changed.
It’s also tiresome because thousands of people are spending time, energy and money on a team’s nickname, while the depressing plight of Native Americans on reservations today is basically ignored.
The living conditions on our nation’s reservations are in many cases deplorable. Yet, this sad situation fails to stir a fraction of the energy that the nickname of the team RGIII plays for does.
In a letter to his team’s fans, Snyder reminisces about going to a Redskins game with his dad as a child. He waxes poetic about the great history and tradition of the team, how he wants to share the pride he has in the team with his children, etc.
So, the takeaway? Snyder values the good times and memories spent cheering for the pro football team based in Washington D.C. over doing something about the term “redskins” and its racist, genocidal history. Bottom line, he’d rather sing “Hail to the Redskins” at the top of his lungs than do what’s right.
Okay, well, we know where Snyder’s coming from.
Let’s let Snyder continue to throw his tantrums and stomp his feet and scream “Never!” whenever the topic of changing his team’s nickname comes up. In reality, his stubborn childish actions are pushing more people into the “Let’s dump the Redskins name” camp.
It’s time to let Snyder live in his little Neanderthalville penthouse for awhile and turn our attention to the major advertisers that have their corporate logos proudly displayed on the home page of the Washington Redskins’ website: FedEx, Bank of America, Bud Light, Ameritel, and Ticketmaster.
In addition, New York Life proudly boasts of the fact that they are the “Official Life Insurance Partner” of the Washington Redskins. StubHub, already the “Official Fan-to-Fan Ticket Marketplace of FedEx Field,” home of the Redskins, is now a naming rights partner for the stadium, entitling the premium club level at the stadium StubHub Club Level. Health Diagnostic Laboratory (HDL) is the “Official Health and Wellness Partner of the Redskins.”
These companies need to be challenged for aligning themselves with Snyder and tacitly approving his team’s despicable nickname. If Americans across the country engaged in a letter-writing campaign calling for these companies to drop their sponsorship of the Redskins or lose their business, we might get somewhere on this Redskins issue.
Snyder may not understand the historical significance of his team’s degrading nickname, but he surely understands the impact of lost sponsorship revenue. An economic strategy will work with Snyder. A social justice strategy won’t.
While we’re at it, here’s another angle for the letter-writing campaign: If these corporations choose to continue their sponsorship of the Redskins, we should all demand that they match their sponsorship investment in Washington’s NFL franchise with an equal-size donation to a worthy cause supporting Native Americans living on reservations.
It’s crystal clear that Dan Snyder is driven by dollar bills and romantic sports memories, not social justice causes. As such, it’s time to start going after his wallet by targeting his advertisers.
Ken Reed is Sports Policy Director for League of Fans
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League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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