Boze: Why the team name Redskins is not offensive

By Neal McNamara | June 18, 2014
Sav Rocca

What are good criteria for naming a sports team? You want something strong and cool, something that evokes power, domination, and speed – something that fans will want to identify with, right?

In Green Bay, they named their team after hardworking local meat packers. In New England, the Patriots evoke the region’s Revolutionary War roots. Here in Seattle, we have the Mariners, the rough-and-tough sea-faring men who haul fish and other goods.

In short, you don’t name your team after something you don’t respect, be it a lion or a soldier.

It’s for that reason host David Boze is disagreeing with the decision Wednesday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office to revoke six trademarks held by the Washington Redskins – a decision that essentially renders the team’s name and logo useless, open for anyone to use freely.

“I just find it so absurd, the federal government couldn’t get their way in something” – a group of lawmakers tried to urge Redskins owners to change the name – “so the feds step in and say sorry, we found this to be disparaging,” Boze said.

“The problem I have with this is you don’t name a team after an individual you want to disparage.”

LISTEN: BOZE EXPLAINS WHY REDSKINS IS NOT AN OFFENSIVE TEAM NAME

There’s also some debate about whether the term “redskin” is even racially offensive.

According to the reference book “Color of Words: An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Ethnic Bias in the United States,” the word redskin is “regarded as highly offensive.” However, an Annenberg Public Policy Center poll showed that 90 percent of Indians in the U.S. did not agree.

In fact, the media have stated that Indians use the term “redskin” as a term of affection; like how blacks use the N-word. And, linguist Ives Goddard of the University of Memphis found that the word, “when it first appeared as an English expression in the early 1800s, it came in the most respectful context and at the highest level.”

In the case of the N-word, “it was very clearly the idea that here was racial inferiority,” Boze said of that epithet. “With the Redskins, when you’ve got people of all different colors, shapes, and sizes want to emulate the team, that doesn’t make any sense. They’re saying, ‘Hey, I want to be like our mascot here,’ and they’re extoling its virtues.

“The argument is that there’s no defense whatsoever of the name Redskins. I’m a Seahawks fan, so I don’t have any skin in the game – pun intended. But I don’t like arguments that don’t make any sense. Can you think of any given professional sports team where you name yourself after something you’re meant to despise?”

Maybe not yet – the Redskins could change the team name to the Tax Collectors.

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