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What’s in a name? Quite a bit, actually

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webmaster | 10/16/13

The Washington Redskins organization of the National Football League is under tremendous pressure from Bob Costas, a television sportscaster, and some other busybodies, to change the name of its team, but don’t expect that to happen.

The Redskins, established in 1932, are the third most valuable franchise in the NFL, according to Forbes Magazine. The team has broken the NFL’s single-season attendance record for nine years in a row. That is despite the fact the Redskins haven’t had all that many winning seasons.

Are you going to change the name of a team that has that kind of performance at the box office? Not unless you are an idiot.

Costas believes the name Redskin is racist and a pejorative, and who is to say some people might not see it that way. But according to the Apple Dictionary, the term Red Skin was first used in the late 17th century to refer to tribes of native American peoples, such as the Algonquians, who used vermilion face and body paint. It did not refer to the color of their skins. The word later became a term of disparagement when whites and native peoples began fighting.

The native peoples also were called by the names they gave themselves, such as Apache, Sioux, Cheyenne and Navajo — names which could strike fear into the hearts of those who would have to face them in battle.

Some of those tribe names have been adopted by sports teams. For example, the Sanger Apaches tear up the gridiron in the Central Valley. The folks in Sanger even wrote Apache tribal authorities for permission to use the name, and were granted it.

We have the Chowchilla High School Redskins, of course, who don’t appear to be under much pressure to change their handle, since Bob Costas doesn’t broadcast from Chowchilla. But if Chowchilla were to change team monikers, the athletes could call themselves the Chowchilla Chauchilas, since the Chauchilas were native peoples who lived there first. (Chauchilas supposedly translates as “fierce warriors,” which is not a bad name for a football team.)


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