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 #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families. Linda writes extensively about how youth sports can hijack families, and family outings, non-sports activities and bonding time are lost in the pursuit of the next club team game or travel tournament.
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Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
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.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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