Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Team That Employs Robert Griffin III And Many Others, wrote a letter to season-ticket holders that the Washington Post published this morning. The letter, while not written in all caps, lays out Snyder’s reasoning for sticking with the current name, despite increasing public sentiment that it’s offensive and not appropriate.
It’s a bunch of sentimental BS.
Here’s a portion from the beginning of the letter:
Like so many of you, I was born a fan of the Washington Redskins. I still remember my first Redskins game.
Most people do. I was only six, but I remember coming through the tunnel into the stands at RFK with my father, and immediately being struck by the enormity of the stadium and the passion of the fans all around me.
I remember how quiet it got when the Redskins had the ball, and then how deafening it was when we scored. The ground beneath me seemed to move and shake, and I reached up to grab my father’s hand. The smile on his face as he sang that song … he’s been gone for 10 years now, but that smile, and his pride, are still with me every day.
And after citing several surveys — one of which had a questionable and perhaps misleading data collection process — and quotes from famous Native Americans, Synder finishes with this:
So when I consider the Washington Redskins name, I think of what it stands for. I think of the Washington Redskins traditions and pride I want to share with my three children, just as my father shared with me — and just as you have shared with your family and friends.
..[w]e cannot ignore our 81 year history, or the strong feelings of most of our fans as well as Native Americans throughout the country. After 81 years, the team name “Redskins” continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come.
So, can anybody explain what Dan Snyder having a great memory with his dad at a football game has anything to do with the team being called the “Redskins”? And why the team being named the “Redskins” for 81 years has anything to do with why it shouldn’t be changed?
Synder’s memory with his father is nice, and is likely not unique. But nothing about what made that day great — the enormity of the stadium, the passion of the fans, the smile on his father’s face — had anything to do with the team’s name. It had to do with the players and coaches on the field, and fans in the stands. If the team had been called the Bluehairs, that stadium would have been just as big, and his father’s song would have rang out just as clearly. To say that this memory would have been altered in any way without the “badge of honor” that is its current name is false.
(Unless that story actually ends with a Native American coming up to little Dan Snyder, patting him on the shoulder, and saying “Dan, you must protect our sacred badge of honor by any means necessary, including buying this team for an ass-ton of money” which it didn’t.)
Additionally, Snyder will be able to share great memories with his children at a football game regardless of what his team is called. He can share the tradition of the team’s success — which, again, was obtained irrespective of its moniker — without lamenting the fact that he was the one to finally change the team’s name. In fact, that kind of understanding of the changing nature of our society would be celebrated for years to come.
Finally, saying that the team has been named the “Redskins” for eight decades is enough reason to leave it that way is ridiculous. We change outdated laws, practices and terms all the time. “Well, we’ve been not letting women or black people vote for so long… it’d be going against tradition to change that now!”
If Snyder wants to cling to hand-picked statistics as the basis for his argument, fine. But trying to tug on people’s heartstrings only makes him look more out of touch and blind to reality than he already is. I guess this means we won’t be seeing a change anytime soon?
Photo via Getty