The Simple Solution to Washington’s Nickname Drama

It might sound ridiculous at first, but just give it some thought: I know how to end the 'Redskins' debate in a way that makes both sides, and neither side, happy at the same time

Daniel Snyder has been resolute in his lack of willingness to change the Redskins name, despite continued heat. (LM Otero/AP :: Sharon Ellman/AP)
Daniel Snyder has been resolute in his lack of willingness to change the Redskins name, despite continued heat. (LM Otero/AP :: Sharon Ellman/AP)

The realization that a fair and successful negotiation is one in which neither side gets everything it wants or walks away entirely happy with the result has been lost in Washington for quite a while now, and could stand being blared from loudspeakers 24/7 until the message sinks in.

But the much-needed middle ground of compromise that had to be found in the stand-off involving the government shutdown and looming federal default is a notion that could prove very useful on more than the political stage in our nation’s capital.

I’m talking, of course, about the other showdown unfolding in Washington, the one involving the controversial nickname of the city’s beloved NFL team. The debate over whether “Redskins’’ is derogatory or not grows more heated every week, as proponents on both sides of the issue stake out positions that render it just another zero-sum game.

But what if it doesn’t have to be all or nothing? What if there’s an option, a legitimate compromise, that doesn’t fall under the heading of either total capitulation to change, or total insensitivity to a perceived ethnic slur? What if there’s some middle ground that allows both camps to walk away thinking they won the half of the debate that really matters to them?

OK, hear me out on this one, and hear me out good. I have a compromise solution to offer Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, and it may sound laughable or simplistic at first, to both the name-change advocates and those who want Washington’s team history and traditions left well enough alone. I have to admit, it struck me as a bit silly or too obvious when the idea popped into my head Tuesday afternoon. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it might just be crazy enough to work.

Ready? Here goes: What if the Redskins were known as just the Skins?

Right. I know. A ridiculous half-measure. But in this rare instance, with this particularly divisive issue, a half-measure might be exactly what’s called for.

The subtraction of three letters—RED—simultaneously addresses the two most important issues being argued over in this debate: It removes from Washington’s nickname the offensive part of the word that describes a Native American’s skin color. And yet it maintains part of the name that the team has been known as since the franchise moved from Boston in the late 1930s. A Redskins fan has already called their team the ‘Skins for probably as long as they’ve been fans. It’s not a drastic, wholesale change to another name, and it leaves Washington with some ability to give a nod to its team history and identity, the same way the NFL allowed the Cleveland Browns to retain their name, heritage and colors when the city’s original franchise relocated to Baltimore in 1996.

Is it the perfect solution? Of course not. But perfection is always the enemy of the good, and “Skins” strikes me as an acceptable halfway point in this fight. In bullet form, let me try and address the questions that understandably flood to mind:

• What exactly is a Skin? What sense does that make? It makes sense in this singular context alone, and only in this particular situation, as a nickname within a nickname that Washington long has been known for. Don’t over-think it. It would be the Skins, no apostrophe before the S, because it wouldn’t be a shortened version of Redskins any more.

And as odd or cumbersome as it sounds now to say the Washington Skins, new fans will come to know this team as only the Skins, and will hear it as a standalone name in time. In 10 or 15 years, the novelty of the name change will have worn off.  While long-time fans who grew up with their team as the Redskins will probably still hear it in their head as the Redskins, the official name will be the Skins, and that identity will form going forward.

Besides, is the Washington Skins any more awkward than the bevy of weather-related nicknames (Heat, Thunder, Lightning, Hurricanes), or vague monikers like the Wild, Thrashers, Blue Jackets, Red Sox or White Sox? Not to mention the ultimate in incongruity: The Utah Jazz. The Washington Skins would be a name that would carry it’s own unique story, and that story could be used as a teaching tool, too.

• What’s the logo supposed to be as Skins? I don’t know what to do with the logo, but that’s really not an unsolvable problem. I’m sure something creative could be worked out by the artists of the world. I’m just the idea man. Maybe something that’s hunter-related, as in skins on the wall? Or would that just prompt a protest from PETA?

• Would Daniel Snyder ever consider giving ground and accepting what is sure to be perceived as half a loaf on the team nickname front? After Snyder unwisely responded to earlier demands for a name change by using the word “NEVER,’’ I’m sure he’d hate even the shortening of his team’s historic nickname. But I think he’s also perceptive enough to know that public opinion is moving away from him on this front, and that key figures like NFL commissioner Roger Goodell are signaling it’s time to consider change and listen more to those voices that are in opposition.

If anything, the best argument for the Skins shortening is that it would give Snyder the ability to find a dignified way out of this mess and save some face after backing himself into a corner. He left himself no room to maneuver with his “NEVER’’ proclamation, and he could rightly claim to be both adhering to his team’s tradition and history while showing sensitivity to Native Americans by making the switch to Skins. It’s called making the best of a bad situation, and that kind of give-and-take used to happen all the time in Washington.

Stand back for a moment and try to realize once again that this may be the rare situation where it’s best for both sides to celebrate a partial win. I can see the benefit of giving both those seeking to have an offensive name changed and those clinging to the Redskins as a revered slice of tradition some respect in this case, with the recognition that the opposing viewpoint can be understood, if not embraced.

Snyder would still own his beloved Skins. Just not the Redskins, a name which is growing increasingly difficult to defend as a harmless relic of a bygone era. Native Americans would no longer routinely hear a slur of their heritage in the name of one of the NFL’s flagship franchises. As a middle-ground solution, changing to the Skins accomplishes a goal. You can’t cut the baby in half, but maybe you can—and should—with a team nickname.

In Washington, it’s time to end the zero-sum game. Let both sides claim victory and move forward.

279 comments
pastorjerry@lhcgb.com
pastorjerry@lhcgb.com

Should the Blackhawks drop the "Black" and just be the "Hawks"?  Incredible!


shapiroesquire
shapiroesquire

That may be the stupidest idea I’ve read or heard on this subject. Does Sports Illustrated have its own small yellow bus? That a professional writer or sports analyst could release this level of product, not even worthy of a blog is an embarrassment. One can only hope, Snyder never agrees to this moronic solution. Oh, and GFY.

OpacTheDON
OpacTheDON

I don't know what to say anymore, Native Americans see this name as racist and yet prejudice people of other races would rather see someone being belittled and hurt by this than change the name and make it better for everyone. Same should be addressed for all verbal and physical prejudice going on. The "N" word is completely wrong so just like this name it should be wiped away from the mouths of all other races. Some people love to twist my words and say that because someone is offended a name should be changed, so they say this country will go nowhere. The only reason this country will go nowhere is because prejudice people want to hold everyone back rather than see someone else take a step forward.

LucasW
LucasW

I don't get the upset about sports teams naming themselves after Native American groups. "Redskins", ok, that is a bit racist and I could see if a team was named the "Savages" with a mascot that looked an awful lot like a particular group of people, but on the whole I think that the protesters have the wrong view on this. After all, why do people name their teams the Tigers or Lions or Bears or Gators or Falcons? Because those are fearsome beasts that most people don't want to tangle with and they are hoping that their players will play with that same ferocity. They hope to imbue their players with some of the characteristics of those mascots. So, when a team is named the Seminoles or Illini or Indians, they are acknowledging those peoples as being brave and fearsome warriors. They hope to imbue their players with the characteristics they believe those groups of people had. It's not a racist denigration, it's a compliment, an acknowledgment of a proud warrior tradition. I would think that these groups of people would be proud that the general public wants the players on their favorite teams to play with the same characteristics that these peoples lived. Instead of protesting, they should be reveling in it.

joshuarthornburg
joshuarthornburg

Peter King is an idiot. I am not a Redskins fan at all but I think this name change "P.C." business is out of hand. There is not a single person who says the name "Washington Redskins" and means it to hurt someone's feelings or to portray any one else as a lesser being. There is no mal intent and people who are offended by it can simply just chose to not participate. I find welfare offensive, can we get rid of that?

SkinsHogHeaven
SkinsHogHeaven

Nothing is ever that simple. Is a 'Skins" trademark even available? Just wondering if you checked.

The Redskins have a team name. It is Redskins. Get over it.

VIPOD
VIPOD

What do we expect from a racist tradition. Owner Preston Marshall was an out-and-out bigot, refusing to integrate. His hand was forced by the federal government, and in 1962 the Redskins became the final professional American football franchise to integrate African America players.

The idea of keeping the logo & changing the name to Skins is ridiculous.   You either change it fully, or leave it alone. The market has a way of deciding what choice is best!

ButtsLarueRVA
ButtsLarueRVA

I wish that just one of these so called journalists would do the minimal amount of research before commenting on this issue.  This tired old solution of switching to 'Skins and keeping the logo is not acceptable to Harjo and her puppets, they have made it painfully clear that they think ALL Indian mascots are harmful to their culture.  She has no problem with the "Red" part of the word, she used to produce a radio show called "Seeing Red" she finds that we disrespect her heritage by wearing the likenesses of her ancestors on clothing, dressing up for games, etc.  We have started a facebook group for supporters, please come and join us.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/savetheRedskins/

thebigdawg3
thebigdawg3

The Redskins should just tell EVERYONE to GO F&^% THEMSELVES.  The name is NOT RACIST, nor is it OFFENSIVE.

RonPacker
RonPacker

To quote Rick Nelson...

But it's all right now, I've learned my lesson well 

You see, you can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself♫

Someone is always going to be offended by something.  The name has no intention of being offensive, only to evoke the image of a intimidating force - a common theme for sports teams (sorry Dolphins you aren't scary.)  Someone somewhere is ALWAYS going to be offended by something.  Get a life, and focus on real problems.

SarahJohnson
SarahJohnson

Everybody (newscasters, fans, etc.) should only call them "Washington." Use the same logo - it's beautiful and I do not think central to the controversy of racism. Drop the offensive name in use even if legally Snyder never concedes, don't buy things with Redskins on it - only "Washington."  SOLVED : )

RobertZink
RobertZink

The simple solution is this... If you like the name, go buy some REDSKINS logo merchandise and wear it proudly... 

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

What would the play by play man say if three receivers are split to one side of the field and another goes in motion to the same side.  Four skins on split to the right?

Sounds painful.

Fox Fan
Fox Fan

This has to be the most stupid (for the PC crowd insert word of your choice) suggestion I have heard to date. Mr. Banks why don't you and your PC cronies pony up the money, buy the team than you can name it what ever you think is better. Until then leave Mr. Snyder and the redskins fans alone. I am offended by your articles but I'll defend your right to write such dribble. My only suggestion to you would be to read it out loud before you post it.

kemp1313
kemp1313

The Cleveland Indians use an extremely racist cartoon mascot, Chief Wahoo. No hue and cry to change their name.

The Kansas City Chiefs were picketed years ago by the American Indian Movement (one of the groups now so intent on changing the Redskins name), and they continue to demand that the Chiefs change their name. No hue and cry to do so.

The Atlanta Braves employ Chief Noc a Homa (nothing racist about that, right?) and have that insidious, offensive, and annoying as hell tomahawk chop. No hue and cry to change that.

The Florida State Seminoles actually gave birth to that insidious tomahawk chop (though they don't call it that). And they have a character in full war paint begin every home game. No hue and cry to make them change. 

It seems that the Redskins have been picked as the boogie man in all this. Snyder ought to hold fast and ignore all entreaties to change the name until the focus changes to all pro and college teams using offensive native American mascots, names, logos, etc. Because you know that if the Redskins change their name, this issue will disappear in a week.

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

What a stupid article.  Snyder is right and he is not going to change it.  There is no story here.  You suggesting there needs to be some sort of compromise when a HUGE majority of general Americans and even American Indians don't care and don't want it changed does NOT mean there should be some sort of compromise with a very tiny minority and the pc crowd that supports them.  

Iowa
Iowa

Still have yet to find one liberal who addresses the fact that in most polls of Native Americans at large-not just a couple people with agendas-that anywhere from 80-90% of them are not offended by the nickname. Love how that point just gets blown by to keep pushing an agenda.

MidwestGolfFan
MidwestGolfFan

Hey, Don. Get out of the social engineering business.

It's none of your darn business, anyway.

ImmaPacker
ImmaPacker

Why do people keep saying they need a matching logo? Do you people watch football?!?!?! Tell me how the Packers logo matches their name? Do the Giants have a picture of a Giant? 49ers? Jets? Browns? Red Skins (as in potatoes) and go back to the sweet looking 'R' from the early 70's. Then we can turn our attention to renaming Oklahoma, which translates into Red People.

BrianCrawford
BrianCrawford

How about the Washington Natives and keep the logo. Fans could still refer to them as the Skins for a nickname if they like.

Georgeh1421
Georgeh1421

Keep the name and the colors 

The problem is the name paired with the logo (Redskins and Native American symbols) 

so if Danny does want/will not change the name  then change the logo and remove all Native American symbols like the old time helmet with the spear.

but what to use as logo???

Redskin Peanut

They grow them in Virginia close enough to Washington DC

think of all the fun we could have all the jam jokes, spread jokes, etc. would solve the problem

gsnyderwow
gsnyderwow

Could you imagine if a team, lets say the 49ers, changed their name to the Yellowskins to 'honor' all those early Asian immigrants that worked so hard to form the city?  Absurd and offensive, right?  But somehow the Redskins is OK solely because thats the way its always been.  Well I didn't wear a helmet as a kid, but children do! Its called progress...

phayes
phayes

There is no legitimate controversy just some nonsense drummed up by left wing morons looking to make trouble where none exists. The playbook says when everything important is headed in the wrong direction create some controversy where there is none as a distraction. Our nation is headed down the toilet very fast so its time to talk about the name of a sports franchise that has never been an issue.  Please someone solve a real problem. not a make believe one.

Morris1
Morris1

Why not just call them the Pigskins?

mrfrogburger
mrfrogburger

The Skins? That's a dumbass idea. But thanks for wasting your energy on it. Glad it's not on paper so we can save a tree.

KevinB2014
KevinB2014

Has the Native American community been asked what they would suggest for a new name? And would it be possible to maintain the logo, or some semblance of it, and choose a name that is considered respectful, yet still refers to Indians/Native Americans? That might be a more acceptable alternative to "Skins," which still will be considered derivative of "Redskins," and presents odd challenges for coming up with a logo and team theme. I know teams have already tapped some of the more respectful names: Chiefs, Warriors, Braves. I wonder what tribal group resided in the D.C. area before Europeans arrived. Just some alternative thoughts.

Karim_B.
Karim_B.

Genocide. 15 millions of them. Planned, premeditated and executed over the course of some 400 years.

Cultural destruction. Humiliation. Broken treaties. Stolen land. Germ warfare. Demonization.

These are the reasons Redskins, Indians, Chiefs, Braves, Blackhawks, etc. are nothing like the Steelers, Packers, Yankees, Fighting Irish or Patriots.

Imagine a german football club naming itself the Westphalia Jews or Munich Israelites... not very classy.

And those white guys (and sometimes blacks) wearing feathers and chanting non-sensically fake native chants: insulting.

Banning the nickname Redskins is just a miniature step in order for White America to give back some of the dignity it stole from Native Americans by genociding them and humiliating them over and over.

But until american history books teach the truth about the genocide of Native Americans, most White americans will bark at the idea of changing the name Redskins: talking about the p.c. police and Casinos and other non-sense...

SkinsHogHeaven
SkinsHogHeaven

@VIPOD "Racist owner" did not refuse to integrate. He refused to integrate black players. Native American players were on the Redskins roster in the 1930s.

His attitude about black players were in line with social attitudes in the District of Columbia at that time. I know this first hand because I grew up in it. It was also no different than the prevailing racial policies of the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Southeast Conference. It's also beside the point. Marshall did not call the team Redskins to malign Native Americans.

You are correct, however, that the market has a way of deciding the best choice. Everybody should leave it at that.  

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

@Fox Fan Ask any of these idiots if they are willing to chip in on a fund to pay for the cost of changing the name.  You think any of them believe in this "cause" enough to help pay for the name change?  

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

@Fox Fan LOL...  yeah easy for them to come up with a reason for Snyder to waste his money.  

BrianDE
BrianDE

@kemp1313 You REALLY need to educate yourself. I don't know about the other mascots, but the FSU comment is incredibly ignorant. That "character" is chief Osceola--a HISTORICAL chief of the Seminole tribe. FSU pays tremendous respect to the Seminole tribe, especially as it is the state of Florida. The Seminole tribe has publicly given its blessing to the moniker. To insinuate that the FSU Seminoles is a racist name is ignorant. Oh, and I say all this as an ardent UF fan.

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

@kemp1313 As soon as the American Indian high schools change their nickname from Redskins to something else, then...

Jon8
Jon8

@BrianCrawford 

Because that wouldn't be too PC would it?!

The Browns can be the Cleveland People of Color!

The Steelers can be the Pittsburgh Deprived Childhoods!

The Patriots can be The New England Let's Tone It Down So As Not To Offend Anyone!

The Dolphins can be the Miami No Dolphins Were Injured In The Playing Of This Game!

The Bengals/Jaguars can be the Cincinnati/Jacksonville Endangered Species!

And the Packers can be The Green Bay AFL-CIO!!!

Fox Fan
Fox Fan

Maybe you should have worn a halmet

ImmaPacker
ImmaPacker

Imagine if you started a team today and called them the Packers? Or the Browns? Or the Red Devils? Would you use any of those names to describe homosexuals?American Indians? African Americans? What if a majority of the Asian population considered Yellowskins as a team name unoffensive? What if there were a number of predominantly Asian high schools that called themselves the Yellowskins and took pride in it? What if the origin of the word Yellowskin wasn't derogatory? And what if the term Yellowskin itself was originated by Asians themselves? And what if the San Francisco Yellowskins were deemed so unoffensive that the team survived 80 years and became one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world with millions of fans from all walks of life including Asian Americans themselves? And 90,000 fans sang Hail to the Yellowskins every time they scored? And what if there were a state that literally translated into "yellow people"? And what if you walked up to an Asian person and said, "what's up Mellow Yellow"? Er, wait. I'm getting ahead of myself. We'll go after that brand in a few years. Sorry.

BTLS
BTLS

@gsnyderwow "Redskins" comes from the color of paint the Algonquian Indians painted on their skin.  Not because of their skin tone.  

Iowa
Iowa

@KevinB2014 Polls have been taken of Native Americans as a whole-not just think tank leaders-on this subject multiple times. Every time the vast majority of them say this is not an issue.

ImmaPacker
ImmaPacker

They would suggest there are bigger fish to fry, such as recognition by the federal Government. Why not ask a person on fire what they'd like for lunch?

ImmaPacker
ImmaPacker

There is nothing even remotely approaching a consensus among the 500 plus American Indian tribes across the country. The 3 recognized Virginia tribes DO NOT want the name changed and want their imagery and heritage to continue to be woven into the popular culture of today and fear it's eradication. If American Indians were united on this issue then you'd see even die hard redskins fans start to come around. Being lectured to by mostly white media types like Bob Costas, who I'm sure is an expert in racism seeing he has had to deal with it his entire life, only hardens our stance. Come to a consensus and eliminate Redskins as a team name among your own population and then reasonable people will agree. Until then, stop trying to make an example out of the Washington Redskins.

MidwestGolfFan
MidwestGolfFan

@Karim_B.  

Pretension.  Self-righteousness.  Cluelessness.

Paragraphs and paragraphs of it.  All of it self-important.

Sound and fury, signifying...nothing.

ImmaPacker
ImmaPacker

Supporters of the team and name are white, black, Asian, Hispanics and even American Indian, but go ahead and lecture those other minorities on oppression. Trying to imply Redskins fans are all white is ignorant. NBC showed images of redskins fans wearing feathers and paint on their faces and made it appear as if it were a common occurrence. I go to 4-6 games a year and have never seen anyone dressed like that. Not saying it doesn't happen, but it's very few and far between. Redskins games are devoid of the insulting theatrics that occur at Braves and Florida State Seminole games.

And why are there high schools predominantly made up of American Indians that call themselves the Redskins? Where's the equivalent? And if the Westphalia Jews is the same as the Washington Redskins then you're implying the Redskins is a white supremacist organization with only white fans and white players? And would a Jewish organization give the Westphalia Jews their logo, so they can experience pride when seeing it on the side of their helmets? Your argument has holes. Lots of them.

Karim_B.
Karim_B.

Well said James. Cant add anything.

gsnyderwow
gsnyderwow

@Karim_B. The new textbooks do, at least the college American history books. 


james.kanze
james.kanze

@Karim_B. In my opinion, there's an additional problem: names like Indians, Chiefs, Braves or Blackhawks show some respect for the people they're named after.  Redskins is a pejoritive name, like Chinks or Wops, at least for some.  I have no problem with Braves (although the tomahawk chop is degrading), Blackhawks or Chiefs, and I would have no problem with Indians, if they'd get rid of that insulting image, but Redskins is insulting in itself---about the same as if there were a team called the Atlanta Niggers.  (Perhaps not quite the same, but the relationship between the blacks and the establishment in the South isn't that far from that of the US government and the native Americans.)



ButtsLarueRVA
ButtsLarueRVA

@SkinsHogHeaven @VIPOD one has nothing to do with the other.  Just because GPM may have been racist against black does not mean he felt that way against the American Indian

ImmaPacker
ImmaPacker

The hypocrisy is staggering. The pied piper of the change the name movement among the pasty white media types is Mike Wise and he gets paid to appear on a show called Redskins Showtime. If he finds the name so distasteful he should quit the show.... But I guess his paycheck is more important than his ideals.

ImmaPacker
ImmaPacker

I forgot to mention the Yellowskins logo, which was given to the team by the former president of the National Congress of Asian Americans, because he and his people wanted to take pride in seeing one of their own on the helmet. Google is not broken, people. Do your homework.

ImmaPacker
ImmaPacker

Google Goddard Smithsonian and Redskin to find out about the origin of the word. It wasn't originated as a slur like other words people try to compare it to.

MidwestGolfFan
MidwestGolfFan

@ImmaPacker  

Bob Costas is an expert on everything.  Just ask him.

Father of the year, too.  I saw him say things (he looked around, to make sure they were paying attention) to to his son just to get some laughs from his groupies.

ImmaPacker
ImmaPacker

I would think any fan of the Atlanta N Words was a racist, so you must be calling all Redskins fans - black, white, Asian, Hispanic, male, female, young and old - racist. Not a winning argument.

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