There’s been a lot of positive change and awareness spread throughout the sports world and the country as a whole over the last couple of months. NASCAR has removed the Confederate flag from all events, UNLV and other schools have made changes to their mascots, and professional sports teams are taking down statues of people that have histories rooted in racism. The latest team to do this is the Washington Redskins as they’ve removed the statue of George Preston Marshall, their former owner.
Marshall was the first owner of the team at their inception in 1932 and owned them until his death in 1969. He did a lot of great things for both the team and the NFL, but unfortunately he overshadowed that with his resistance to integrating his team. In fact, in 1962, the league threatened to remove the Redskins as a team unless they signed their first black player to the roster.
Marshall highlighted the sad and unfortunate history of black athletes in America, and I think it was the right move to take down his statue. The problem I’m having is that the move feels hollow from a team that still uses the “Redskins” nickname. The term “Redskins” has a deep rooted racial history against Native Americans and is still found to be offensive today by a large portion of the Native American society.
Whether you agree or disagree that the team should change their name, it is clear that the Washington franchise and RFK Stadium are making a concerted effort to scrub some of their past from the history of the team moving forward. To distance the franchise in one area but continue to use the name they do in another feels hypocritical and takes away from the power of the removal of the Marshall statue.
I hope that Dan Snyder changes his stance that he will never change the name from “Redskins.” He is clearly making strides in the right direction, so I am hoping that he recognizes that and continues to push forward. If not, the franchise’s actions today will always be lacking some of their potential luster.