– Will Rogers
President Obama, having moved on from the challenges of Syria, health care and a government shutdown, is now tackling sports name reform -- in particular, the Washington Redskins.
In a weekend interview with the Associated Press, the president said he would “think about changing” the Redskins name if he owned the football team.
He said some team names offend “a sizable group of people.” He also said that while fans get attached to the names, nostalgia may not be a good enough reason to keep them in place.
Well, you have to admit Redskins is an odd name for the NFL team in Washington, D.C. Other than treaty-breaking, the area has little connection with Native Americans, and the team actually brought the nickname with it when the old Boston Redskins moved to D.C. decades ago.
Why were there “Redskins” in Boston? Historians might point out that the young National Football League tried to match up its early franchises with the baseball team in the city it shared.
The Boston Redskins were in the town of the onetime Boston Braves. The Detroit Lions were there with the Detroit Tigers. And the Chicago Bears were grown-up versions of the Chicago Cubs.
As for offending nicknames, we’ve been down this road often in recent years.
Many college teams once had mascots that referred to Indians, and most have now been changed.
In fact, several efforts have been made to protest the name of the Atlanta Braves, and some newspapers announced they would no longer refer to the team in that offending term.
Sometimes, however, it’s just not that simple. My favorite example comes from the early 1990s when, I was told, a passionately sensitive editor at the Atlanta newspapers declared loudly one day in the newsroom: “How would you people like it if they had a team named The Crackers?”
Well, they did.
Before yielding the diamond to the Braves in 1966, the Atlanta Crackers were not only beloved but considered one of the most successful minor league teams of all time.
As for Washington, if they want a team name that more accurately reflects our nation’s capital, I gladly nominate Weasels.
Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
THIS WEEK’S VIDEO: On augustachronicle.com I tell the story of Augusta’s great 1871 Pig Exodus. For realism they filmed me at Steed’s Dairy with a real pig.
TODAY’S JOKE: Frank Allen shares.
A Sunday School teacher asked her little children, as they were on the way to church service, “And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?”
One bright little girl replied, “Because people are sleeping.”