The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Redskins respond to team name controversy, kind of

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A lot of time and pixels have been spent on people who speak out about the Redskins name being offensive. The Redskins have finally responded. Well, sort of.

On the team’s official site, they highlighted a few high schools that currently use “Redskins” as an athletic moniker. The piece is titled “We Are Proud To Be Called Redskins,” and features quotes from school representatives who see no problem with using the name that others claim is offensive.

The item concludes:

These schools’ athletes have a deep connection, just as the Washington Redskins alumni, and many high school student-athletes have pride in calling themselves Redskins.
One familiar high school Redskins athlete was Washington Redskins star Brian Orakpo, who played for the Lamar Redskins in his high School days in Houston, Texas.

The team’s site also features a video of Larry Michael talking on the phone to an athletic director in Oklahoma about his school’s Redskins team name. Riveting television.

It appears to be a situation of, “If they’re doing it, then it’s okay for us to do it, too.” Some of you would accept this as a fair defense, and others may point out that a billion-dollar entity using high school sports as a barometer for what is acceptable is weird and unprofessional. Even if that barometer is in Oklahoma. Hey, they have Native Americans there, right?

There’s no doubt that the hoopla surrounding the team name has become a bit of a PR headache for Dan Snyder and company. But as our own Dan pointed out recently, sometimes you have to turn the spin machine off and treat your fans like the intelligent folks that they are, instead of throwing smoke and mirrors at an issue that a loud group of people have become passionate about. If you don’t see a need to change the team name, then just say so.

But if your PR strategy now is to use high schools as a model for how to conduct business, their game tickets are usually free. Just saying.