The discussions and debates surrounding mascots and team names have gone to Capitol Hill. While there’s still some debate about history, intent and political correctness, the one thing that has become abundantly clear to me is that Chief Wahoo is on the wrong side of history. It’s even more clear to me today considering what’s happening in Washington D.C. as 50 United States Senators have signed on to a letter to the NFL urging them to force a change of the Redskins name.
Dear Commissioner Goodell:
This month, Americans applauded the rapid and decisive reaction from new National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver to the racist remarks of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Commissioner Silver sent a clear message that racism will not stand in the NBA.
Today, we urge you and the National Football League to send the same clear message as the NBA did: that racism and bigotry have no place in professional sports. It’s time for the NFL to endorse a name change for the Washington, D.C. football team.
The despicable comments made by Mr. Sterling have opened up a national conversation about race relations. We believe this conversation is an opportunity for the NFL to take action to remove the racial slur from the name of one of its marquee franchises…
This is a matter of tribal sovereignty – and Indian Country has spoken clearly on this issue. To this point, we have heard from every national Tribal organization, including the National congress of American Indians, United South and Eastern tribes and the Affiliated Tribes of the Northwest Indians. These organizations represent more than 2 million Native Americans across the country and more than 300 Tribes with government-to-government relationships with the United States. These organizations have passed resolutions in support of a name change as they find the Washington D.C. football team name to be racially offensive…
There’s more in the letter, but the point is that regardless of how you think about Wahoo or your own origin story in relation to it, this is the current environment. This is what’s going on in the NFL with the Redskins’ name, but subtract that name and put “Chief Wahoo” in the letter and you pretty much arrive at the same conclusion: Wahoo’s days are numbered.
So, wouldn’t it be better to get out in front of it before another fifty Senators draft a letter to Bud Selig? If this letter is successful and the NFL does intervene with Dan Snyder’s team and force a name change, it will only reflect that much more poorly on MLB, Cleveland and the Indians organization that they’re even later to the party in the face of mounting evidence of an inevitable outcome.