The United States Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the Washington Redskins trademark registration in an effort to notch up public pressure and force a name change. I don’t understand how people don’t view this as an inevitability. I would think that Dan Snyder, who is a very successful businessman, would have gotten out in front of the waves of criticism. But maybe there’s a business reason for resisting the change.
The only argument being made on the Redskins side is the sport’s history argument. Don’t get me wrong, as a sports fan, changing the name bothers me on some level too, but team names and sport’s history are always changing. Not too long ago, the Oklahoma City Thunder were in Seattle and called the Supersonics. It’s been about five years since that change, and the Thunder have won a ton of games, have a ton of fans, and the idea of changing back is unthinkable. In 2002, the NFL reformatted it’s divisions because of a few expansion teams and shuffled everything. A lot of people didn’t like it, again in the name of sport’s history. Among the changes, the Seahawks moved from the AFC to the NFC after almost 30 years with the same rivals. Now they’ve won a Super Bowl in the NFC, they have a great rivalry with the 49ers, and the idea of saying based on history they should be moved back seems ridiculous.
Well like I said, part of this bothers me too. I understand just how fanatical NFL fans are. They are more fanatical than religious people in this country. And it’s easy for NFL fans to forget that most people aren’t NFL fans. Using the sport’s history argument to someone that doesn’t care about football is as effective as using a religious tradition argument on someone who is atheist. It’s just hopeless.