Don’t like Redskins? Try these names out
On Wednesday, the US Patent and Trademark Office canceled the Washington Redskins’ trademarks on the basis they were “disparaging to Native Americans.”
It’s the latest blow to the team and to owner Dan Snyder, who has often adamantly said the name will stay in Washington. Even the Wednesday ruling doesn’t force the team to change its name or change its current logo.
For the record, I’m all for changing the name/logo. It’s an offensive term that draws a reaction from Native Americans and non-Native Americans alike. The percentage of who it offends seems to change depending on the source, but it’s clear that some percentage of people would like the term Redskins to go.
The use of Indian names and imagery has been an issue for years and it’s not going away anytime soon. The issue has gained more and more steam in recent years and it seems to be finally coming to a head in 2014. Even if the Redskins name ceased to exist, a new debate would likely take its place.
I see nothing wrong with teams like the Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves and Chicago Blackhawks because over time, any offensive imagery they’ve used has been phased out. The Indians for example have phased out most imagery with Chief Wahoo and the Braves replaced their Indian mascot Noc-A-Homa.
The odds are at some point, things will reach a boiling point and force some kind of change in Washington, whether voluntary or mandated. Even though the Wednesday ruling allows Washington to keep it’s name, the removal of the patent puts financial pressure on the organization.
With that in mind, what to do about a new name?
The first choice is simple: The Washington Redskins. No, it has nothing to do with Native Americans. I’m talking about the red skin potato.
Instead of conjuring up images of Native Americans, the team would be associated with a potatoes. Instead of an Indian head for a logo, replace it with a googly-eyed potato with a Redskins hat on. Think of the spongmonkeys in those ridiculous Quiznos commercials from a few years back.
Think of the taunting possibilities for the opposing team’s fans: Mash the Redskins. Boil the Redskins. Fry the Redskins. The possibilities could be endless.
Apparently, someone already thought of this, or at least a product like it. In March, the US Patent and Trademark Office rejected a product called Washington Redskin Potatoes on the basis that it was disparaging because the product didn’t contain potatoes and was still associated with the team.
The proposed idea of the Washington Redtails name last year was a bad one. It means nothing and seems like a half-hearted attempt to come up with something that sounds similar enough to Redskins. That name would catch on about as well as the Bobcats moniker did in Charlotte after the NBA’s Hornets relocated to New Orleans.
A better suggestion? How about the name of a tribe native to that area? Last May, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reached out to three Indian tribes in Virginia to get their take on the Redskins name controversy. All three tribes-the Rappahannock, the Pamunkey and the Patawomeck-essentially said the name didn’t bother them and that many members of their tribes were Redskins fans.
Assuming a local tribe is ok with it, rename the team after that tribe and create a new logo around it. Florida State and the Seminoles have worked in harmony for years, even after a brief NCAA-fueled dust-up a few years ago over the use of the name. The University of Utah did it in 1972, when Utah’s teams changed their name from the Redskins to the Utes.
How about the Washington Warriors? They can do what the Golden State Warriors did and have no images of warriors whatsoever. Or they could pull from history and be named after any number of warriors from ancient history.
If we’re leaning in a different direction, how about going back through Washington D.C. sports history?
How about the Washington Senators? There have been several incarnations of the Senators in the nation’s capital, the last of which was in 1971 until the team moved and became the Texas Rangers.
How about the Washington Olympics? They were Washington’s first baseball team and played from 1871-72, about 20 years before the first incarnation of the Senators.
If we’re sticking with the political theme of Washington’s teams a la Capitals and Nationals, how about the Washington Diplomats, the name of a now defunct North American Soccer League team.
Washington could also do what the University of North Dakota did. A few years ago, the school was ordered to stop using Fighting Sioux as its mascot. The school stopped in 2012 and the school’s teams compete now just as North Dakota. A new nickname will be chosen next year.
Washington could simply decide to drop Redskins from its name and compete as Washington until a new nickname is picked. Maybe the fans could have a say in picking the new name.
Just don’t pick the Bobcats.
James Andersen can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.