As I have mentioned before, I started my illustrious journalism career as a sportswriter. I covered junior college soccer, Little League games and enough high school sports to make me never want to see another high school sporting event.
I enjoyed writing about sports. It taught me to write on deadline and write about some things I didn’t know much about going in. It forced me to learn about sports like soccer. To me, I would rather watch a chess tournament than soccer.
The position also gave me my first taste of column writing, something that I have been doing now off and on for decades. I especially enjoyed the sports staff at my second newspaper. We were all pretty young and hungry and we were certainly very opinionated. Frankly, we could argue about anything.
It was magical.
I wrote on a variety of sports topics, both local and national. But in the last week I have been reminded of one column I wrote in about 1994, because the topic is suddenly in the news again.
I wrote then that the Washington football team should change its name. The name of the team, which I choose not to use here (take that however you want to take that) is offensive. No, that is not just me saying that. Look it up in the dictionary – it is offensive slang. That is the same as a horrible word used by racists when they refer to black people.
Yes, it is the same.
I wondered then and I wonder now, how can a professional sports team have such an offensive name? Is it because of “history?” If that is the case, times change and so should the name.
I think it is about two things. First, it is about money. Changing the name of a major sports team would be expensive, there is no doubt. All of the marketing, uniforms, merchandise – you name it.
Second, the owner of the team seems to be one of those “you can’t tell me what to do!” kind of guys. Even if he knows it is wrong, he won’t admit it.
Well, it looks like he is finally at least considering that he is wrong. With the current environment in this country, and our ongoing discussion about race, the topic is finally coming to a head for the team. Of course, the pressure is coming from investors, so this is still about money. But regardless, the team has launched a “study” about the name. Oh great, a study. But at least it is movement, something we have not seen much of in decades.
This is a change that must be made. And please, don’t talk to me about “our history.” First of all, who is “our?” It is not me – I don’t use that word and it is not a part of my history. And if you are so married to the offensive name of a football team that you think it should not be changed, you need to examine yourself.
This name should never have been used, and it should clearly be changed now. This is the moment in history that things are changing. We still have a long, long way to go on race in this country, but the time to change this name has come.
This would be a small step, but it would be a step in the right direction.