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Column: No debate necessary over Washington name
Of course, he didn’t mention research that questions whether William “Lone Star” Dietz was an actual Indian or stole the identity of a missing man from the Oglala Sioux tribe. Snyder also cited polls and anecdotal evidence that indicate support for the name from Native Americans, though activists have questioned the validity of those surveys.
Actually, it doesn’t matter whether they’re accurate or not. Snyder’s campaign is merely a smoke screen to cover the real issue _ the millions and millions of dollars he worries about losing if he changes the name.
On that issue, he might have a point.
David E. Johnson, the CEO of Atlanta-based Strategic Vision, a public relations and branding agency, said the Washington franchise could take a huge financial hit by reversing course now on the issue of a name change.
“It they do rename it, it’s going to take time to win back the old fans who get angry because the name was changed,” Johnson said Friday. “When the sponsors look at that, do they really want to be in a rebuilding process when there are others teams they could go advertise with? Even if they are in the D.C. area, they could go up to the Baltimore area and advertise with the Ravens.”
This is where the league needs to step up.
Commissioner Roger Goodell needs to tell Snyder, privately but in no uncertain terms, that there will be a change _ three to four years from now, to allow for a smooth transition.
Snyder’s legitimate financial concerns must be addressed, perhaps from a special fund set up by the other 31 teams. Think about it: If each team contributed just $10 million _ basically, pocket change given the value of NFL franchises _ there would be a rather tempting financial incentive to dangle in front of the Washington owner. Of, if can show he’s lost significant revenue after the name is changed, the NFL could commit to making up at least part of the difference.
Perhaps Snyder could leverage a name change into getting that new stadium he wants in the District of Columbia, which is unlikely to happen as long as the team carries its current nickname. President Obama recently suggested that it might be time to consider a change. The mayor of Washington goes out of his way to avoid using the offensive term.
Fans are overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the name, evidenced by a poll released over the summer by The Washington Post. It showed 61 percent of city residents liked the name, and support was even higher among self-described fans; about eight in 10 said the team shouldn’t change its name.
But more telling was this part of the survey: Among those who want to keep the name, 56 percent said the word is inappropriate in apparently every context except naming an NFL team. Only 28 percent believed it was acceptable to use.
That name has to go.
By returning to goodness, the nation can achieve greatness once again
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