Upstate New York school considers changing ‘Redskins’ name

January 30, 2013
Sarah Kogod/The Washington Post
Sarah Kogod/The Washington Post

To my readers who get very angry when I post anything about the Redskins nickname: Your anger actually made me consider ignoring this news item, which I saw at Uni Watch. But then I figured if I give in to your wishes, another group of readers could start a campaign skewering me for posting photographs of athletes with funny beards or mustaches, and then I’d really be in a pickle.

So I will post this as a news item I find interesting, without intending for that action to imply my opinion on the subject, or even whether I have an opinion. And yes, I realize this introduction was meaningless, and the same people will accuse me of being part of a nefarious cabal of Washington Post leftists dedicated to imposing political correctness on the world, and possibly even placing Scotch brand tape over the mouths of those who fall on the wrong side of our evil media campaign.

Anyhoo, “Cooperstown Central School students will soon be polled about whether the school should retain the nickname ‘Redskins,’ which dates to the mid-1920s,” according to a report this week in the Oneonta (N.Y.) Daily Star. “The students will take 10 minutes out of their class time to complete a survey about the nickname, which many Native Americans and others consider to be offensive,” the paper’s report continued, noting that “the National Football League’s Washington Redskins have faced similar criticism.”

The students will be allowed to choose from nine options — including Redskins — or to opt for a write-in candidates. That vote will apparently be binding. But school administrators weren’t shy about voicing their own preferences. District Board of Ed chairman David Borgstom said some students have been embarrassed or uncomfortable to tell outsiders about their school’s nickname, and told students at an assembly that our culture is an evolving thing.

“I am convinced the time has come to make a change” he told the Daily Star. “We cannot continue on a path of recognizing the importance of diversity education, and cultural sensitivity, and continue to be called the Redskins.”

“The name really does not coincide with our initiatives and all the work we have been doing with anti-bullying and Dignity for All Students, faculty development and programs such as Habitudes,” school superintendent C.J. Hebert told the paper. “It is kind of hard to have them side-by-side.”

The paper’s commenters, not surprisingly, seemed disinclined to support a change.

“It is now clear, the inmatates (sic) have taken over the asylum,” one wrote.

“As a former student I think they shouldn’t change the name and I’m sure a lot of other alumni would feel the same!!!” another wrote. “Most of us were proud to be a Redskin!!!!!!”

“I would be terrified to compete against a team called Share Feelings,” wrote a third. “You wouldn’t know what to expect and they could just fly off the handle keeping their opponent uncertain and ill at ease.”

Ok, now you can call me a no-good social engineering biased outsider Apparatchik, and I can defend myself, and we’ll all be left feeling a bit dirty and bruised. Then we can enroll together in a session of Habitudes. It’ll be fun.

Oh, and Courtland Milloy wrote another column on the issue this week. In fairness, since some have accused me of being in cahoots with Milloy on this matter, we had a brief e-mail exchange recently, in which I suggested I disagreed with one of his columns. See, that’s all part of the conspiracy.

Meanwhile, the National Museum of the American Indian on the Mall is having a sports mascot symposium on Thursday, Feb. 7, ending with “a spirited community conversation about the name and logo of the Washington, D.C. professional football team, with sports writers from the Washington Post and USA Today, along with eminent members of the D.C. community.”

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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Dan Steinberg · January 30, 2013