Today is the day I became a Washington Redskins fan. And being a diehard New York Giants fan I know this is a huge conflict of interest for me. If you follow the NFL at all you know that it’s damn near impossible to like two teams who are within the same Division (NFC East) let alone the same Conference (NFC)! The Redskins and the Giants are in the same division. But as long as the Redskins stand by their name and what it was always meant to represent, then they will have my support in any way I can give it (without fully relinquishing the fact that I bleed blue of course!).
History in a Name:
The team was established in 1932, originally called the Boston Braves. Then they became the Boston Redskins for a while before settling down on the Washington Redskins in 1937. That’s 77 years with the name, which, at the time, had absolutely NOTHING to do with disparaging Indians or Native Americans in any way. In fact, if it had, this argument would have been going on for at least 77 years right? One has to wonder what has changed?
A Ruling Gone Wrong
Today the United States Patent & Trademark Office passed down judgement on the Blackhorse vs. Pro Football, Inc. and the decision is one I cannot believe. It’s a testament, really, to just how wrong our society is becoming. The idea was always meant to be more freedom, not less. But always remembering that not everyone will be satisfied with freedom for all to do and say what they want (within reason). If there is something or someone I don’t like, for whatever reason, it is up to me to handle it. It’s not my place to stifle that persons right to be free because I find their freedom offensive. Where does one group (large or small) get off thinking they can force a long standing NFL team into submission?
Yes, I know, according to this ruling the Washington Redskins do not HAVE TO change their name. Nor do they HAVE TO cease selling merchandise that says Washington Redskins on it. The logo can remain as well. What this ruling does is prevent the team from making the profits they have been making because they can no longer prevent a third party from creating the same merchandise and selling it; probably at must cheaper cost. What this does is force the Redskins to change their team name and logo to something they’ll be able to register with the USPTO so they can be the sole owners again. This is unfair in so many ways I hardly know where to begin.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that most NFL teams (as do most popular athletic sports) make their money off of the merchandise they sell. Yes, they also make money from game sales and sponsors and such, but a good portion, for the team AND the players, comes from the merchandise. We can argue about the semantics for the rest of our lives, but when that source of money gets taken away from a team what is the likely scenario to follow? Either the team will have to cut players they already have and/or sign on fewer players to be able to compete with how much most are offered in contracts or raise ticket sales to the fans. Either way it is a lose – lose for the teams franchise. Especially since according to Forbes Magazine (2013), the Washington Redskins are the third most valuable franchise in the NFL (valued at $1.6 billion) behind the Dallas Cowboys and the New England Patriots. I have a feeling that might change once the 2014 numbers come out.
Let me also ask the obvious question: What’s to prevent this happening to other teams in the NFL or any other major league sport? Will the Kansas City Chiefs be next? How about the animal rights organizations arguing over the plight of how animals are depicted in teams such as the Jaguars, Bengals, Ravens, Seahawks, etc.? Where will it end now that the door has been kicked open? How long will it be before the a group of people find the word “yankee” offensive and demand it be changed, or else?
Today it’s the Redskins, who’s next?
Having said all this, I hope Americans, or at least those who love the game (whatever that game may be), will hear about this and stand with the Washington Redskins.
Not as extreme, but whenever I hear about someone or something being silenced or forced to be less free, I think of what Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) said:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.