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What’s in a name?

Long past time to deal with offensive nicknames, pro or otherwise

First, before we plunge into the raging discussion about what to call that Pro Football Team in Washington, let’s just admit that none of our hands are clean here – journalists included.

Thousands of times in hundreds of stories over the decades, we have shown no shame, apology or hesitation dropping Native American-based nicknames into the flow of the story. And we’ll continue to do so in the days, months and years ahead.

I’m especially bad in this regard, as a fan of the baseball team in Cleveland. In all truth, if they changed the nick name tomorrow and got rid of Chief Wahoo once and for all, I’d be good with it. Other long-time fans might balk, and a lot will protest, but they’d get over it.

That’s the point missing in the discussion about the Pro Football Team in Washington. A whole lot of teams in a whole lot of places dumped Native American nicknames and/or mascots, and somehow the world kept turning around.

The transition in the college ranks has gone on for decades. Stanford, Dartmouth, Marquette, St. John’s, Louisiana-Monroe, Arkansas State, Illinois, Eastern Michigan, Miami (Ohio) – they all once offended, and they all changed, without any long-term blowback. The Saltine Warrior is long gone from Syracuse, too, and who really misses it anymore?

High schools have done the same, too. Canastota went to “Raiders”, without the Red. Liverpool and Westhill adjusted their “Warriors” logos. Central Square turned into Red Hawks, and just this year Cooperstown turned into Hawkeyes. Community input was sought. Colors were maintained. No big deal, really.

So why in the name of John Riggins is the Pro Football Team in Washington holding out? It isn’t money, because they’d make a lot of coin through a new logo, new apparel and new jerseys to wear to the stadium on game day.

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