Redskins Rapidly, Badly Losing Name Game

Updated on

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 3, 2014):  The percentage of people who support keeping the name “Redskins” for the football team, despite growing concern that it is a racial slur, is falling rapidly, from 89% in 1992 to 83% in an online Associated Press-GfK survey earlier this year to 71% in a newly released poll. Meanwhile, the percentage demanding change has increase by almost 300%, from 8% in 1992 to 23% today.


Redskins’ players in favor of keeping this allegedly offensive name

Moreover, in a related development, barely half of the “Redskins” players were in favor of keeping this allegedly offensive name. “When only about half of your own players are willing to say they are in favor of the team name, despite obvious pressure from team owner Dan Snyder for them to back his position of NEVER changing the name, there’s big trouble for the football team of a city sometimes affectionately called Disneyland on the Potomac,” says public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

In reporting on the “Redskins” issue, the Washington Examiner, which has opposed many of Banzhaf’s other actions, nevertheless said he’s “one of Washington’s top litigators with a record of cowing Big Tobacco and Washington’s Cosmos Club.” It also said that “Banzhaf has the type of win-loss record the Redskins should be worried about. In the past, he has won several lawsuits against smoking and others such as one forcing Washington’s Cosmos Club to admit women.”

New York Daily News will not use “Redskins” in its editorials

Meanwhile the New York Daily News, hardly a liberal publication, has gone far further than the Washington Post, which just announced that it would no longer use the racist name in its editorials.

The News, under a headline entitled “Sack the Name,” said that it will no longer use the name anywhere in its pages.  “The preview also won’t use the Redskins logo with its feathered Indian,” Broadcasting and Cable reported.

As the New York Daily News put it: “Enormously popular and deeply ingrained in sporting culture, the Redskins name is a throwback to a vanished era of perniciously casual racial attitudes. No new franchise would consider adopting a name based on pigmentation – Whiteskins, Blackskins, Yellowskins or Redskins – today. The time has come to leave the word behind.”

In still another development, a letter signed by more than 100 Native American, religious and civil rights organizations has been sent to major broadcasters, asking them to stop using what the letter called “government-defined racial slur” that has been used to disparage American Indians “throughout history.”

While the letter originally relied upon little more than their ethics and sense of fairness, broadcasters will now face an additional economic incentive.

Redskins: Legal petition to oppose the renewal the broadcast license filed

The first legal petition to oppose the renewal the broadcast license of a station for its on-the-air use of the word “Redskins” has just been filed, and more are reportedly being prepared.

Independent experts anticipate that this will hold up the license renewal process by years – during which the stations’ credit rating, ability to sell or transfer its assets, and even to enter into contracts may be adversely affected.

“No station would want that hanging over its head for years, so a larger percentage are likely to agree to stop using the name,” suggests Banzhaf, who filed this petition.  His previous FCC filings forced radio and TV stations to run antismoking messages for free, drove cigarette commercials off the air, and pressured DC-area TV stations to put African Americans on the air as reporters for the first time.

Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
Fellow, World Technology Network,
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
2000 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052, USA
(202) 994-7229 // (703) 527-8418 @profbanzhaf

Leave a Comment