Washingtonians Support a Name Change for Football Team

A recent poll of Washingtonians by The Oneida Indian Nation confirmed what any thinking person already knows: changing the name of the Washington, DC football team—currently a racist moniker that mocks American Indians—would not lessen local support of the team.

USA Today reported that the poll asked people who consider themselves fans of the team and only 30 percent said a name change would make them less of a fan. Nearly half—46 percent—said a name change would not lessen support and 23 percent said it would increase their support for the team.

The stats were similar among the general population of people in the Washington region—55 percent said a change wouldn’t lessen support; 25 percent said it would lessen support and 18 percent said it would increase.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.

“As proud sponsors of the NFL, we want to see the league succeed and hope that the Washington team will finally take this important step, which would reflect positively on them and the NFL,” Oneida Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter said in a statement.

Support for a different name for Washington’s football team has been building for decades, with several high-profile supporters making bold stands in recent months. D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said earlier this year that if the team wants to build a stadium in the city—they currently plays in the suburb of Landover, Md.—it would need to consider a name change. He and other city officials do not refer to the official name, but rather “Washington football team.”

President Barack Obama told the Associated Press this year, in so many words, that tradition should not override common sense.

“I don’t want to detract from the wonderful Redskins fans that are here. They love their team, and rightly so — even though they’ve been having a pretty tough time this year. But I think — all these mascots and team names related to Native Americans, Native Americans feel pretty strongly about it. And I don’t know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real, legitimate concerns that people have about these things.”

Academics derided the team’s name at a Smithsonian Institute symposium in February, “Racist Stereotypes and Cultural Appropriation in American Sports,” held at The National Museum of the American Indian.

Team Owner Dan Snyder issued an open letter to fans at the beginning of this season, vowing to never change the team’s name.

“We cannot ignore our 81-year history, or the strong feelings of most of our fans as well as Native Americans throughout the country,” Snyder wrote.

The Washington Post took an unscientific poll of readers earlier this month, reporting that 57 percent said the team’s name should not be changed and 43 percent said it should be changed.

The team began as the Boston Braves in 1932 before changing their name and moving to DC in 1937.

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