The Washington Redskins are always mired in controversy over the name of their NFL club. Critics argue that the name is disrespectful of Native Americans and that a change is in order, out of respect, and in an effort to appear more civilized and dignified. Ownership believes they own the rights to the name and has continued to fight for its survival throughout numerous attempts for change. On Wednesday, the U.S. Patent and trademark Office canceled six federal trademarks of the team due to their negative nature.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has voiced his disapproval of the teams name on many occasions. “The Redskins no longer have trademarks. They are gone. Daniel Snyder may be the last person in the world to realize this, but it’s just a matter of time until he is forced to do the right thing and change the name,” said Reid. “Snyder says it’s about tradition. I ask, what tradition? A tradition of racism. That’s all that that name leaves in its wake. The writing is on the wall. It’s on the wall in giant, blinking, neon lights.”
Senate Indian Affairs Committee Chairman tweeted, “This decision is a step forward for Indian Country & for all Americans who champion tolerance.”
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) is another vocal critic of the team’s name. “I don’t know how many times he needs to be told that the name is disparaging. I understand he says he’s going to appeal. Shame on him,” she said. “I mean, does he like losing?”
Bob Raskopf, the team’s trademark attorney plans to appeal the decision. Historically, the team has appealed past cancellations and he sees this as business as usual. “We’ve seen this story before. And just like last time, today’s ruling will have no effect at all on the team’s ownership of and right to use the Redskins name and logo,” he said in a statement, citing rulings in 1999 and 2003. “We are confident we will prevail once again, and that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s divided ruling will be overturned on appeal.”
Should the Redskins be forced to change their name? Decency would suggest that they should. Economically there are also major expenses that are associated with a change in brand. It involves new merchandize, branding, logos, and an overall change in team image. Still, owner Daniel Synder should bite the bullet and change the team’s name. While he technically owns the trademarks and should be allowed to do as he wishes, he should realize that he is fighting a losing battle long-term and that it would save a lot of time and effort to change the team’s name sooner than later.
Photo credit: Associated Press