Cultural appropriation is terminology that has started to be used more frequently. Many diverse aspects of our lives that we took as normal are now being seen in a different light. Sports came under fire this past year with the mascots, logos, and names of certain teams. The Washington Redskins were one of the teams that were criticized. The owner at the time, Dan Synder, had said “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.” over the years to any comment of changing the long-standing name. This past July after the death of George Floyd, the rise of the Black Lives Matters movement, and two of their main sponsors, Nike and FedEx, being especially animant that the name be changed, the franchise finally made the decision to change its name to the Washington Football Team.
There were mixed feelings from fans and the community as there was a history and tradition behind the name. The name Redskin is a derogatory word and racial slur used to describe Native Americans. Having the name Redskins was a crime to some, especially Natives Americans, who saw the name as offensive and damaging to their culture. Many Native American leaders voiced their opinion on the continuous use of the term and wanted the name to be changed. In 1992, more than 2,000 Native Americans went to the Super Bowl where Washington was playing against Buffalo to protest the name. Petitions were signed to have the name change yet this did not bring about the change hoped for by the Native Americans. Other sports organizations were switching their names at the request of indigenous groups near them. At the same time, there was a whole other side to the conversation.
A poll done in 2016 of 504 Native Americans, 9 out of 10 said they were not offended by the name, Redskins. Changing the name would cause a lot of the rich history and culture of the franchise to be lost. They would not only lose the name but the mascot, uniform, and any other tradition attached to the name. To many fans, this was a crime as they no longer had a symbol to connect to since it had been stripped away. With the name change, more tradition was lost with the new name of the Football Team. This name had no connection to the fan base as it was just stating the obvious by calling it a football team. It was criminal to the fans to not give them a new identity instead leaving them yearning for something new. The fans were told by the owners and coaches that a name was in the making, however, it was all a waiting game. Overall, there is a complexity behind the changes of sports names as even though the name might be cultural appropriation and a crime to an entire community the other side cannot be ignored as it is also a crime to take away what they have known for so long giving them nothing in return.