bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Washington Redskins refuse to change the team’s name

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The concept of “political correctness” is an interesting one. Essentially, the term is used to describe attempts to avoid offending people. That seems like a pretty good idea, doesn’t it? Sure, there are people who are very easily offended, and there are others who find offense in things where it really does not exist, but for the most part, doing or saying things a certain way to avoid making someone feel marginalized is a pretty good idea. Of course, there are a lot of people who think our society goes too far in trying to appease the folks who would be otherwise offended. In fact, as you might expect, there are individuals who go wildly overboard with it, suggesting that any attempt at all to toe this line is a waste of time, and that anyone who feels victimized by language should just get over it. Those people are rarely the ones on the receiving end of the offensive words, predictably.

Political Correctness was at issue this week in the public discussions on the name of the Washington Redskins, the NFL team that represents our nation’s capital. This is not a new subject, as the team’s name has been debated many times in recent years. This time, a city councilman in D.C. discussed a non-binding resolution to recommend a name change for the team, with the moniker of Redtails being proposed as the alternative. Team owner Dan Snyder responded by saying that the team’s name would “never change.” He tossed out this quote as explanation:

“As a lifelong Redskins fan, and I think that the Redskins fans understand the great tradition and what it’s all about and what it means, so we feel pretty fortunate to be just working on next season.”

Umm, what? That not only does not give a rationale for the decision, it actually doesn’t say anything at all. Let’s put this very simply: the name is patently offensive. There are no two ways about it. Of the many team names related to Native Americans throughout the sports world, I am pretty sure that “Redskins” wins the award for most ridiculously offensive. I don’t care how much history the team has, how resistant to change people are, or how much money it would cost the team to change the name. This is just flat-out wrong, and the NFL, always so concerned with its image, should not allow a team with this name to continue to participate in its league. If this were a brand new expansion team, would they be allowed to name themselves the Redskins? Absolutely not. That same standard should apply here, regardless of the fact that the team has had this name for many years. Offensive is offensive, and this is offensive. Let’s not kid ourselves about the cost to the team, also. A change in name and logo would prompt a huge increase in merchandise sales for the franchise and would promote a lot of goodwill for the team and the league.

In 1992, the public was polled about this name and 89% were in favor of keeping it. Today, that percentage has dropped to 79%. I find it revolting that nearly four out of every five people think this name is okay. It makes me sad for our society that people have so little regard for the feelings and dignity of others. If the name were offensive to other groups, it would most certainly be on its way out, but I guess mistreatment of Native Americans still doesn’t stir outrage in many of us. That’s a real shame.

Bad sports, continued:

2) The hits keep on coming for the NCAA, especially in the case of the handling of the Miami investigation. Frank Haith, a former Miami head basketball coach who now coaches at Missouri, is accusing the NCAA of illegally accessing his private bank records as part of its investigation into possible wrongdoing at the South Florida school.

3) Toronto Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ was hit in the head with a line drive on Tuesday while pitching against the Tampa Bay Rays. He suffered a skull fracture.

4) Not only did the umpires blow a homerun call on the field during the Cleveland Indians-Oakland Athletics game on Wednesday night in Cleveland, but they reviewed it on television and still managed to get it wrong. Both teams and everyone in the stands knew it was a homerun, especially after the replay. The umps somehow did not.

5) Not to be outdone, an umpiring crew handling the L.A. Angels and Houston Astros game looked even worse than their cohorts in Cleveland on Thursday. Crew Chief Fieldin Culbreth has been suspended for allowing the Astros to remove a pitcher who had just come into the game and had not yet faced a batter. Blowing a call is one thing, but not knowing the rules is simply inexcusable.

6) A British sailor who had won a gold medal during the 2008 Olympics was killed on Thursday during training for the America’s Cup competition. Andrew Simpson was 36 years old.

7) Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Titus Young had a pretty spectacular week. He was arrested three separate times this week, including twice in the same day last Sunday. That has to be a record, right?

8) Golfer Sergio Garcia was doing very well in the Players Championship this week when he made a bit of a mess for himself. After Saturday’s round, he complained that he had been distracted by something done by Tiger Woods, with whom he had been paired for the day, and said that had cost him a shot. Garcia and Woods have never gotten along, and this prompted a bit of a negative back and forth between the two hid did not reflect well on Garcia, in my opinion. He looked even worse when he completely fell apart while fighting for the win on Sunday. He dropped two balls in the water at Sawgrass’ famous 17th hole, and followed up that quadruple bogey with another ball in the water on the 18th. Woods won the title, while Garcia finished eighth. Oops.

Good sports

1) Last Sunday, a teenage boy with cancer, Joshua Jones, was seated in his wheelchair in the first row at AT&T Park in San Francisco. He is a Dodgers fan, and was there to watch his favorite team. At the end of the game, Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, who had been told about Jones by third-base coach Tim Wallach, came over and gave the boy his cap, jersey, and cleats while also signing a ball for him and shaking his hand. Fantastic.

2) A 15-year-old blind girl, Charlotte Brown, competed in the pole vault at the Texas state championships on Saturday, clearing three heights, the top one being 10’6″. What did you do on Saturday?

 

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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