There are some people who are not offended by the name of our hometown football team. Our own poll results even bear that out – although a clear majority of respondents to the inaugural WJW weekly survey still voted for the Redskins to change their name.
When so many others feel strongly that the team name is offensive, however, and when no less than an arm of the federal government – the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office – agrees, it makes sense for the team to give very serious consideration to changing its name rather than getting mired in a lengthy, ugly dispute that it will never truly “win.”
Team owner Daniel Snyder has repeatedly been accused of having a tin ear – and not just regarding the name emblazoned upon his team’s jerseys. Snyder is clearly the professional sports owner Washington fans love to hate. Snyder now has a chance to win back some fans and to change his public image by simply changing his team’s name. Not because he has to do it, but because it is the proper and decent thing to do.
Sure, the Redskins can appeal last week’s decision by a panel of federal judges invalidating all six of the team’s trademarks. Indeed, the team can probably tie up the issue in the courts for years (the original lawsuit challenging the name was filed in 1992). There are still other ways Snyder can fight.
But when there is such an easy play available – change the team name and emerge as a hero at the same time – is it good business or good sportsmanship to resort to the ground-and-pound of endless litigation? Is the negative publicity and significant expense really worth it? We think not.
The last thing professional sports needs now is more distracting controversy. We therefore urge Daniel Snyder to focus on building his team’s quality and competitiveness, and to relieve his team from the distraction of what has become an outdated and offensive name.