What to call Washington’s football team?

I usually cast a jaundiced eye at efforts to change the name of sports teams that refer to Native Americans.  After all, I reason, fans love their teams, so there can hardly be anything demeaning in what they call them.  I do understand tribal sensitivities in regard to mascots–misusing tribal symbols such as eagle feathers and perpetuating stereotypes–but I salute the Seminole Nation,for example, in affirming the dignified reference to their tribe by Florida State.

But Washington “Redskins”?  Yeah, that’s pretty racial and hard to justify.  Change is going to come eventually.  So, if the name of the football team that represents our nation’s capital is going to change, what should it be?  I am looking for suggestions both serious and humorous.

Never mind that the team is NOT considering a name change:

Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen said Thursday the team isn’t considering a new nickname, adding that it’s “ludicrous” to suggest that the franchise is trying to upset Native Americans.

“There’s nothing that we feel is offensive,” Allen said. “And we’re proud of our history.”

Opposition to “Redskins” has gained momentum following last week’s symposium at the Smithsonian that was heavily critical of the use of the word, citing its history as an offensive term. Local columnists and commentators have called for the team to change its name in recent days.

The Redskins have responded with website postings featuring interviews with officials from the 70 high schools they say still called themselves “Redskins.”

via Redskins’ GM Bruce Allen says team not considering name change – DC Breaking Local News Weather Sports FOX 5 WTTG.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Randy

    They should be the Nationals.

    Maybe I’m a little simplistic, but I like it when the football and baseball teams match or at least compliment each other (e.g. Cubs and Bears). Going up in St. Louis in the 70′s and 80′s, it was really nice having the football and baseball Cardinals. I know it is unrealistic, but I’ve even thought that when a team moves cities, they should give up the name. That way the when the football Cardinals left St. Louis we could have saved the name for the Rams when they moved here. Again I know I’m naive, but that seems to make sense to me.

  • SKPeterson

    To properly associate them with D.C. and our government, they should be called something like the Zombies, the Vultures, the Jackals, or the Plague Rats.

  • helen

    The “Houston Oilers” moved but soon changed their name.
    It makes sense to me, too. The Dodgers on the West Coast doesn’t make any sense at all….

  • Mark

    Keep the name Redskins but instead of a Native American make it a potato. Non-offensive and delicious with butter and garlic.

  • Spaulding

    The Washington Wizzinators (comes from a devise used to fake a drug test)

    Seriously if not the Nationals then maybe the Senators.

  • fjsteve

    SKP,

    … Snakes, Dung Beetles, Leeches, Vampire Bats, Roaches, …

  • fjsteve

    Hey, I have the perfect name for a D.C. team but since Arizona already has a professional sports team nicknamed the D-Backs, it might get a little confusing.

  • Hunter

    Don’t change the name. Yes, it is “racial,” and what of it?

    In postmodernthink race is to be a banned category for whites, but not for other races. Yes, the Indians, whose fighting prowess is being extolled, are of a somewhat recognizable non-white, non-black race. Should we pretend they don’t have a race and deny their heritage? Is it the puytative skin color? Then we shouldn’t refer to Negroes as Blacks (even though the two terms mean the same thing.)

    The worst part of political correctness is that it promotes a kind of unthinking self-censorship. Here’s a question: why should the Fighting Sioux of North Dakota be banned, but not the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame University?

  • kempin04

    SK, #2,

    “To properly associate them with D.C. and our government,” they should triple their salary cap every year, hire an additional coaching staff of 750 with full union guarantees of benefits, retirement, and raises, build 17 training centers throughout the city with cutting edge equipment and no contractor oversight, and develop a media team for the express purpose of lamenting that they are tragically short of resources and that the children of the players are the ones who will suffer. They could then employ a staff of 40 consultants with unlimited expense budgets to lobby the NFL to impose fees on the fans in every stadium in the league to fund the shortfall of revenue caused by the heartless OTHER coaches and players who inflicted defeat on them without regard for the impact it would have on the local economy.

    Or we could just call them the “Redskins” and get over it.

  • http://pekoponian.blogspot.com pekoponian

    Hmm… How about Continentals? They could have a Revolutionary Army theme.

  • Pete

    The Washington Weasels

  • Helen K.

    I’m not even a true fan, but I like Pete’s (11) suggestion. Has a nice ring to it.

  • Trey

    Since this “story” (read muckraking) came up a few weeks ago, I have been trying to determine the actual origin or thought behind the name. I have seen some people in the comments at other sites say the red skin was in reference to the red war paint Indians put on and that since only men wore it that’s why an Indian is on the Redskins logo. I don’t know though.

    I am conflicted on this since I don’t take it as racist since Indians don’t have red skin. However, I could see the Indians view if they are offended. I think the name has new meaning then perhaps it did when it was an epithet. Again though is not being offended a Constitutional right? I think not.

  • Helen K.

    …and weasels are crafty and clever. Slick little varmits. I could go on…all in the spirit of fun. Used to get into the hen house when I was a kid and suck eggs right below the setting hens and also got into the incubator during the night and drained the blood from the tiny, baby chicks. I think there could be an analogy here. (:

  • http://theoldadam.com/ the Old Adam

    The ‘Parasites’ would get my vote.

  • Grace

    The TAX RATS

    Think of all the uniform ideas they could come up with?

    :lol:

  • TE Schroeder

    Well, perhaps I am offended that the city is called “Washington.” He was a white man, was he not? That’s a little racially insensitive, as I suspect a large segment of the population is not white. They could simply become a team with no city name and no nickname. There. Now no one’s offended. What would their uniforms look like? Probably similar to Penn State’s, but without the pizzazz.

    And don’t get me started on “Indianapolis”……

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    > … Snakes, Dung Beetles, Leeches, Vampire Bats, Roaches, …
    .. or Senators. That would be equvalent to those above.

  • Grace

    WHO might I ask, would you suggest for the Mascott of this team? And what would the costume look like?

  • Grace

    Sorry – - Mascot only needs one t! :lol:

  • helen

    Why does Washington need a team? There is precious little teamwork evident there!

  • Grace

    Oh, Helen – you’ve never heard about Washinton “team work” regarding tax hikes, health care team work? :lol: Ya gotta start staying on top of it, they have “team work” (socialism) down to a science!

  • jb

    This really matters?

    Who cares? This is silly.

  • Nils

    Why not the Washington Wombats? Doesn’t make sense, but neither does the naming of the Buffalo Bills (a poor pun on the name of a guy who lived in Nebraska, not New York) or the Detroit Lions (there are no lions in Detroit!). Plus, it’s alliterative, and would draw many crowds given the fuzzy and rotund nature of the noble wombat.

  • Gerald

    It must have been a slow day. Surely, you jest.
    Don’t call me Shirley!

  • Joanne

    We’ve just completed our monthly meeting of the Adams Morgan Redneck Club, and we have agreed, 100 % that we would be proud and honored for the football team to name themselves the “Capital District Rednecks.” Appreciatively yours, Bubba and Buddy.

  • Joanne

    Uh, Bubba and I will be participating in the West Palm Beach Python Rodeo for the rest of this month, but we will be back up in DC early in March to take up this wonderful opportunity with the football team.
    With regards and very truly yours,

  • Carl Vehse

    To properly associate them with D.C. government officials, during Demonicrat administrations the Washington football team could be known as the “Traitors.”

  • Sharon Philp

    Oh wow! Boy do I feel silly. All this time I thought this team was from Washington STATE! I was going to suggest the Washington $tarbuck$. Then I realize they are from the other Washington. Well, how about calling them the Lobbyists? I am sure there is room for a few more in the Capital.

  • Hanni

    They already have one Nationals (Nats}; what about the Bombers ? I also like Bruins., if not taken. Look what you started, GV (nasty names!), was that for fun? People seem to have a lot of aggression

  • helen

    Hanni @ 30 +1

    I was over here on R&R from “steadfastlutherans”
    Curses! Foiled again!

    I should have given up blogs for Lent!
    (Maybe it’s not too late?)

  • hanni

    Helen @ 31,
    Why did you say that? I immediately thought YES, that’s what I should give up for Lent, blogs and talking so much. I really feel convicted…it’s enjoyable to blog, but I also am edified, what to do?

  • Grace

    Carl, that’s a spended idea, “Traitors.” – what would the players uniforms look like?

  • Grace

    @33 should be “splended” -

  • Tom Hering

    The D.C. Drones. Oh, what that would call to mind! War, speeches, mindless activity.

  • Grace

    Tom, I think they would need a ‘teleprompter for that one, maybe more than one – maybe bama could loan out a few of his.

  • Rod

    Crimson epidermous? HateSpeechers anonymous? Conservatives begone?…or my favourite ”nonames” that way they can stand in the collective anonymity of the wolfpack.

  • Joanne

    I’m out here in the Glades in West Palm county, my dogs had done supurbly at tracking and pointing the pythons. Fortunately, we haven’t lost a dog yet.

    I’m anxious to get back to this blog to stop the rumor that the Adams Morgan Redneck Association (the AMRA) is going after this. We totally oppose naming the Rednecks after the AMRA. We are only in approval of naming the team the Rednecks after us, the AMRC (club, not some pansie association).

    Would you look at the size of that muther, must be 38 feet if it’s an inch, could be 40, 50 eggs in this one. Will those weazels eat python eggs I wonder. Nah, the juvenile pythons love small furry prey, there’s not a wild cat, dog, racoon, fox, rabbit, or possum anywhere south of Lake Okechobee these days. We’ll probably have the rodeo in Kissemmee next year.

    Having gobs of fun. Just say NO to those freakin’ Associationists. See ya back in DC.

  • http://saintmarkslutheran.org Mark Brown

    This is easy. The “Red-ink” Like the Stanford Cardinal, we could have the Washington Red-ink. Just change the Standford S into a red cash dollar sign. Maybe with parenthesis around it (old accounting indicator of negative numbers).

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    I like “DC Drones.” And I’m wondering what y’all have against dung beetles, snakes, vultures, and such. Come on, let’s not indulge species-phobia. :^)

    What about “DC Deadbeats”, in honor of their spending problems there? No insult intended to real life deadbeats, of course.

  • Jon

    The Grid-Iron Gridlockers.

  • Joe

    I normally scoff at these ideas of pejorative nick names unless their is a “drunken Indian” reference in the school’s mascot or logos; Then I get it. but short of that I think the act of naming your team after American Indians is a complement. Generally, team names are picked to reference something unique about the city they play in (e.g. the Milwaukee Brewers) or you pick a team name to instill a sense of fear in your opponents. (I said generally – obviously there are examples of team names that have been picked by 7 year olds. The Chicago Cubs are a good example)

    As it stands, I really don’t know if the phrase “redskin” is really a historically pejorative term or if people with nothing better to do are claiming offense. I grew up in Northern Wisconsin; Indians were the primary racial minority and they were very poorly treated – “spear an Indian; save a walleye” was heard commonly. “Treaty Beer” was sold in local supermarkets with the proceeds going to fund the legal fight to restrict Indian access to public fishing and hunting lands (the idea was to get courts to very narrowly read the various treaties). I saw all kinds of racism against Indians, but I do not have a single memory of anyone every using “redskin” as a slur. On the other side of the ledger there was a historic “Red Power” movement and a coalition of Chiefs released what they called a “Red Paper” in response to a Canadian Governmental White Paper on Indians’ status under Canadian law.

    So, as I do anytime this comes up, I offer two alternative team names with a pledge that since they are based in my ancestry, no complaints will come forth:

    1. The Norsemen (you could also use Vikings but a lousy team that wears purple took an awesome name are ruined it)

    2. The Cossacks.

  • David M

    Uhm, hello.

    The Washington SEQUESTER

    The mascot can be a cleaver.

  • Esh413

    The Washington Griffins! Though as a Baylor grad, I might be biased.


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