Change the name: 'Redskins' moniker offensive

In a recent football game in Alabama between the McAdory High School Yellowjackets and the Pinson Valley High School Indians, students from McAdory held up a large banner that read, "Hey Indians, get ready to leave in a Trail of Tears Round 2." This was, of course, a reference to the Indian Removal Act of 1830.

Yes, racism is alive and well in our society, and it is disgusting that it has made its way into sports.

Sports bring people together from all different walks of life and bond us all together around one common goal — victory.

There is no place for racially charged, offensive material such as that banner in today's day and age. That is why sports teams, such as the Washington Redskins, need to change their names.

While Dan Synder, the current owner of the Redskins, continually insists that they do not mean to offend anyone by the name, one needs to look no further than the past history of the team to discover the name's true intent.

George Preston Marshall, the original owner of the team who gave them their name back in 1932, was a staunch proponent of racial segregation. Before he died, he went as far as to set up a foundation in which he would leave his fortune under the condition that no money would be donated to causes that supported racial integration.

When the National Football League finally allowed African American integration in 1946, Marshall refused to sign or draft any to the Redskins roster, holding out until then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, along with Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, forced the team to integrate or else lose their government-funded lease on the Redskins stadium.

Given this man's history, it is not at all inconceivable to arrive at the conclusion that he most likely meant harm by the name "Redskins," a term that has been used throughout history to degrade people of Native American descent.

It is nothing more than a cop-out and pure ignorance to suggest that the purpose of the name "Redskins" is to honor and remember a once-proud culture. It is no different than any other racial epithet that has been directed to members of various other racial and ethnic minorities.

In a very courageous and powerfully delivered segment during halftime of a nationally televised game last month between the Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys, legendary sportscaster Bob Costas stated, "Think for a moment about the term 'Redskins' and how it truly differs from all the others. Ask yourself what the equivalent would be if directed toward African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, or members of any other ethnic group. When considered that way, 'Redskins' can’t possibly honor a heritage or a noble character trait, nor can it possibly be considered a neutral term. It's an insult, a slur, no matter how benign the present-day intent."

Costas argued that other such names like the Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves of Major League Baseball, are different in that those terms have never been used to demean Native Americans.

I would take it one step further and say those names, or perhaps their team images, do offend and should also be looked at because it is ridiculous and insulting for any other group to tell Native American people what is and what is not supposed to honor them.

Only Native Americans themselves have the right to determine what is honor and what is not.

In no way do I think that Snyder or members of the Redskins management are racist, and I believe they are genuine when they say they mean well toward Native Americans.

However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to believe them when they continue to speak out in favor of upholding the name. The team needs to do away with any remaining elements that connect them to Marshall and his racist legacy.

Being Jewish himself, I would think Snyder would understand the meaning of racial and ethnic oppression, and I imagine he would be signing a different tune if a sports team decided to use a swastika or refer to Jews in a derogatory manner.

Allowing the Redskins to keep their name, or any other similarly named sports teams, does nothing but continue to perpetrate racial stereotypes and animosity such as the ignorance of the students of McAdory.

These names need to be done away with, since they have no place in sports.