Stan Crader

Author & Lecturer on Writing About Rural America

Washington, Redskins, Costas, and Spoons

I recently came across an aphorism of which Bob Costas should be made aware —“Those who stir the crap should be made to lick the spoon.”

During the football game between the Cowboys and Redskins, Bob Costas used his halftime segment to espouse his opinion of the mascot chosen by the team that calls Washington home. Bob claims the use of Redskins as a mascot is a slur and insult.

Sports teams choose a mascot in an effort to create a competitive identity for the team. Chicago has the Bears, Oakland has the Raiders, Kansas City has the Chiefs. There are exceptions, Miami has the Dolphins, chosen during the time the TV show “Flipper” was popular. But enter Larry Csonka and soon everyone associated the Dolphins with fierceness, and after 1972, respect.

Redskins is the chosen mascot by Washington, the football team, not the man. Did Native Americans revere Washington, the man? Yes. Did Washington, the man, revere Native Americans? Yes. Did Native Americans revere Washington, the district, home to our federal government? No

What about Native Americans? Do they feel insulted that sports teams choose names associated with the Indian Nation? The most recent poll was done by the Annenberg Institute (2004). Their study found that 95% of Native Americans are fine with their heritage being used to represent sports teams. It seems, Bob, that Native Americans understand that being chosen as a mascot is honorable.

So why, Bob, does the team that calls our nation’s capital home need to change their mascot? Empirical evidence does not support the notion that there’s a problem with the redskins part of the name. But yet, Bob, you’re getting bad vibes about the name. Could it possibly be that it’s the ‘Washington’ part of the name that is causing all of your consternation?

When people think of Washington, what comes to mind? Far too many think first of the loggerhead government rather than the much revered America’s founding father. It’s my guess that Washington, the man, might find it offensive that his name is associated with the behavior of those who now walk the halls of our nation’s capital.

So, Bob, the problem most likely isn’t with the Redskins half of the football team’s name. The problem may be that too few Americans know about Washington, the man. There’s too much focus on Washington, the District. Consequently, a positive image does not come to mind at the mention of Washington.

Another thing, Bob, Native American’s don’t need you to defend them. President Washington doesn’t either, but he’s no longer around to defend himself. And since too many Americans now derisively associate Washington with our current government, rather than the legendary revolutionary, maybe you should call upon the owner of the Redskins to drop the Washington part of their name. And while you’re at it, call upon congress to drop the name Washington from our nation’s capital. We can refer to the beltway as DC (district of consternation), and the Redskins, as, well, the Redskins, resolute, fierce, competitive, and honorable.

In the name of being fair and balanced, how about next week you tell America about Washington, the man. Don’t leave out the part where as General, he led an armed citizenry into battle against the world’s greatest super power, and against all odds, won. And after refusing to be King, was elected President, and continued to lead troops into battle.

I’ll share my spoon.

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