Chip Shots

by Jim Buzzerd

What’s in a name?

It hasn’t been a great week with news regarding the football teams I call my own. Last weekend I found out that I would no longer be a Washington Redskins fan. That is not as a result of a decision I have made (actually a decision I’ve been considering), but because team owner Daniel Snyder has succumbed to social pressure abandon the Redskin moniker because of its racial connotations. I’m not sure of the timeline, but soon the Redskins will be no more.
Pressure on Snyder to change the name has been mounting over the years and he has refused to budge until now. While I hate the way the team has become irrelevant under Snyder’s ownership, I supported his resolve to preserve the name, yet I knew that ultimately he would have to cave. Yes the word Redskin when referring to a Native American comes off as racist. Racism was not the intent when the team was named in 1932. The intent was to honor the Native Americans. Of course 90 years later things look a lot different in a social climate where sensitivity rules.
Navajo Nation issued this statement on Monday,  “July 13, 2020 is now a historic day for all Indigenous peoples around the world as the NFL Washington-based team officially announced the retirement of the racist and disparaging ‘Redskins’ team name and logo,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez wrote. “This change did not come about willingly by the team’s owners, but by the mounting pressure and advocacy of Indigenous peoples such as Amanda Blackhorse, and many other warriors who fought long and hard for this change.”
Reading that statement reminds me of newscasts in 1972, I know, nearly 50 years ago and hardly relevant now, but Washington was headed to Super Bowl VII to face the Dolphins. Groups of Native Americans were seen at Redskin pep rallies, not to protest the team’s name, but to cheer them on. That unity resonated to me then. Times and attitudes change and we adapt.
If there is a silver lining it’s that since I’m no longer a Redskin fan, I may look elsewhere for a team to support. I’ve already been flirting with the Ravens for a few seasons and I like them. Watching Snyder’s team struggle to even be mediocre has taken a toll. Whatever they end up calling themselves, I’ll still be a fan, but the Washington team may not be 1A anymore.
I care a lot more about football at West Virginia University than I do any pro team. News last week that the Big 10 will not play any out of conference football games this fall due to the pandemic has apparently knocked the first game off the Mountaineers’ fall schedule. Maryland, now a member of the Big 10, was scheduled to visit Morgantown this fall.
No word yet on what the Big 12 plans to do regarding fall sports, but it is mid July with a number of areas in the USA   seeing increasing numbers of COVID-19. I don’t have any reason to think we’ll see anything resembling a full season, if we see any season at all. I’ve seen suggestion of moving college football to the spring of 2021.  I like the idea.

1 Comment

  1. Clayton Austin on July 21, 2020 at 5:22 pm

    Dear Mr. Buzzerd,

    Quoting from your column of July 15, 2020. “I supported his resolve to preserve the name, yet I knew that ultimately he would have to cave. Yes the word Redskin when referring to a Native American comes off as racist.”

    I’m just trying to figure out your actual message. You supported Owner Daniel Snyder’s resolve to keep the name, while also acknowledging that in 2020 the name comes off as racist. (Which is somehow distinct from being racist.)

    The news reports make it clear, Daniel Snyder did not “cave” to social pressure, he made a business decision. But now that the decision has been made, why not consider another possible response, “It’s about time.” That would convey, “Times and attitudes change, and we adapt.”

    Clayton Austin
    PS – I agree, by whatever name, this team is a sad shadow of its former self.

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