By Ken Reed
Calling an American pro football team — especially one in the nation’s capitol — a racist name like Redskins has always been despicable. Finally, that wrongdoing has been corrected.
The NFL’s Washington football team is now the Washington Commanders (Was it really necessary to take almost two years to come up with that name?)
The name change is “an amazing and a giant step in the maturation of America,” according to Suzan Shown Harjo, who is Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee.
I love that description.
Thanks to a collection of sponsors, fans and Native American protesters, Washington’s football team won’t be using Native American imagery and mascots in a way similar to how other teams use jungle animals like lions and tigers.
“Research has shown, time after time, that Native mascots lead to lowered self-esteem and self-worth, and increases rates of depression, self-harm, and violence against Native youth,” says Crystal Echo Hawk, executive director of IllumiNative, a Native American social justice organization.
Yes, name changes take time to get used to. There is a lot of history and tradition associated with the old names. But Washington and other teams that change their names, like the Cleveland Guardians of Major League Baseball, will make a lot of money by selling merchandise with the new name, logos and uniform designs.
The bottom line is, as sports broadcaster Bob Costas said many years ago, the Redskins name is “an insult, a slur, no matter how benign the present-day intent.”
It took a lot of social and financial pressure for the Washington football team to do the right thing, but now that they have, it’s a sign the country is gradually growing less tolerant of racist names and symbols.
And that’s worth celebrating, even though there are many pro, college and high school teams left who have yet to do the right thing by dumping their Native American nicknames, mascots, and images.
Here’s hoping the Washington football team’s name change speeds up that process.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. He previously covered the Los Angeles Dodgers for The Athletic. His new book is titled “How to Beat a Broken Game: The Rise of the Dodgers in a League on the Brink.” We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
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Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered.
Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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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