In 2020, we are seeing athletes, sponsors, and fans ask their teams and universities to make a real change in their image across the sports landscape. One easy, simplistic way to begin that change is through language. More specifically, the names we refer to schools, mascots, and team names as carry weight. And changing them may be a tangible step in moving in the right direction. The Washington DC professional football team looks like they’re about to jump on board.
That’s because the most obvious and egregious name that needs to be changed, in all of the sports, is the Washington Racial Slurs. Ok, that’s not actually their name… but it might as well be. Washington is not the only sports team in America to make a racist team name and mascot at the expense of indigenous peoples, but they are certainly the bluntest about it. Dan Snyder, the team owner since 1999, publicly stated in 2013 that the name would never change and that the history the team had built since the team name became official in 1933.
In 1932, the franchise’s first season, they were located in Boston and called the Boston Braves. To make a play on the Boston Red Sox, Owner George Marshall renamed the team the following season and had them play their home games at Fenway Park. The team moved south in 1937, but had built a following and refrained from changing the name. They won the division title their first season in the District, and thus began the “illustrious history” Dan Snyder refers to.
Now, several of their major sponsors are asking for a name change, or else they will pull their money. The most notable was FedEx, who sponsors Washington’s home stadium. Snyder also owns the stadium… this would be a major blow to his pocketbook, and he has the power to keep it from happening. Nike, the NFL’s apparel, and the uniform sponsor have changed their website so no merchandise populates when the Washington pro football team is searched. Indications Friday morning were that Washington and Snyder are, indeed, working to change the name after the most recent financial fallout. Who would’ve thought?
Luckily for the Washington Racial Slurs, Dan Snyder, and their fans… We at Belly Up are here to help. Below, we’ve come up with some new names for the franchise. At the bottom, let us know which one they should run with by voting for one of our ideas!
Parker’s Nominated Name: The Washington Monuments
Think about it: what is the DC area known for? What are built every few years all over town? What do tourists come to town to see? The Monuments. (cue a song about “meeting the Monuments” to the tune of “Meet the Mets”)
Seafoam Green, off-white, copper. The colors are picked for them already. All over DC, the monuments and memories are engrained in the city’s culture. Washington Monuments also gives you a W and an M, letters that can play well off of each other in a logo.
The mascot could be any Founding Father statue, and it could easily be transformed into several mascots walking around the field. And when you need entertainment… If you thought the Milwaukee Brewers’ sausage race or the Washington Nationals’ President’s race around the stadium was fun, wait until the Washington Monument is racing Lincoln, FDR, and MLK in a 40-yard dash!
As the city grows and monuments are added, the inventory for creativity grows. Say Harriet Tubman gets a monument in town… BOOM! A new character for the franchise. Does Frederick Douglass get immortalized in town? BOOM! He’s a part of the team. The team’s image becomes as malleable and inclusive as the District wants to be. Fans can pose with the mascot version of their favorite monument from around the District. They can sell wigs to look like Washington, or beards for Lincoln. Who wouldn’t want a little stuffed version of Roosevelt’s famous pup, also featured prominently in his monument, Fala?
Chaka Cummings’ Nominated Name: The Washington Hogs
Oh, you loser franchise! Why wouldn’t you take the EASY win when you are definitively at the bottom of the NFC East (I’m betting most readers weren’t born when the Washington football franchise won their last championship back in 1991)?
Maybe it is because you are used to being on the wrong side of racial history in the NFL? Former President John F. Kennedy did have to threaten your franchise to integrate– becoming the last professional football team to do so back in 1962.
This is who you are, I guess.
Of course, I remember sitting on my couch as a young lad growing up in the projects back in January, 1988. After having my hatred for all other NFC East teams honed into a finely crafted weapon by my New York Giants-loving family, we sat cheering on this winter evening- for Washington?! You see, that day Doug Williams became the first Black quarterback to lead his team to a Superbowl victory, crushing Denver 42-10 and winning the game’s MVP.
Let’s step beyond your history, though (very difficult for a current history teacher to say, mind you).
Today, Washington football is known for a few things. There is the gruesome injury that Alex Smith suffered. Of course, let’s not forget all of the failed head coaching hires; it’s like a who’s who of dudes that can’t win games in modern football. Today, though, they do have a QB who is more interested in selfies than the victory formation, so maybe that’ll trend with the kids!
Then, there’s the overly-involved owner, Daniel Snyder, who defiantly refuses to change the racist mascot of his beloved franchise. Why should he?
I mean, you all have heard about the poll back in 2004 where indigenous peoples aren’t offended by the name, right? Of course, if you dig into that, you might find some flaws, or at least 15 or so Native American scholars did, but, whatever.
Nah, bruh! At the end of the day, only threats from major forces move Washington professional football to change. Shareholders in major corporations like Nike and FedEx have spoken to the corporate leaders of these companies, demanding severed ties with the team. Nike pulled all Washington professional football apparel from its website– and there’s pressure from politicians, again!
Cue the name change, boys! If the name impacts the bottom line, then we grow a conscience. After all, if it doesn’t make dollars…
How about you draw on the good ole’ days to inspire your fan base? Draw on Jeff Bostic, Russ Grimm, Mark May, Joe Jacoby, and Mark Schlereth. You won because of these guys; name the franchise after them!
Kev’s Nominated Name: The Washington Presidents
When you think of Washington, what do you think of? That’s right, politicians. When you think of politicians, what do you think of? Generally cheaters, liars, and people who will do anything to stay in power. But the R-Words shouldn’t change their name and stay in DC. Dan Snyder has done enough to damage any goodwill the city had for them, so they should move to St. Louis and buy the rights to the BattleHawks name (RIP). So who takes over DC? Well, what team do you think of when you think of cheaters, liars, and a team always on top? That’s right, the Patriots. They can keep the color scheme (red white and blue in DC would be perfect) but just become the Presidents. Give DC a winning franchise, and I’m sure soon after this move there will be a Billiam Welichick interning for the NSA soon after.
Below, vote for which of the names is your choice. Have a better idea? Respond in the comments to let us know what you’re thinking and why![socialpoll id=”2660497″]