Media Minute: Redskins should change name now
By Jerry Brown, APR
I’m not making a moral argument. Just offering some PR advice.
When you’re in a fight you can’t win, it’s usually a good idea to find a way to end the fight. The Redskins can’t win this fight. So, they should find a way to end it. The only way they’ll do that is by changing their name.
This issue isn’t going away. It’s a moral and cultural issue for opponents of the Redskins’ name. It’s hard to argue that keeping the name reaches the same level of moral importance for those opposed to changing it. They’re fighting for the status quo.
It’s hard to see how supporters of the status quo gain any strength. If anything, the tide is moving in the other direction.
The critics are likely to get stronger over time. Fifty members of the U.S. Senate signed a letter last month urging the Redskins to change their name. And the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office cancelled the team’s trademarks last week on grounds that the team’s name disparages Native Americans.
All of the senators who signed the letter are Democrats. So, it’s still a one-party issue there. And the Patent Office’s action apparently won’t have any major practical impact. But you can count on there being be more pressure applied until the inevitable change ultimately happens.
Team owner Daniel Snyder claims he has poll results showing most fans want to keep the team’s name. And some fans undoubtedly will be upset when (not if) the name is changed. My guess is most of them will get over it pretty quickly. The popularity of athletes and sports teams rises and falls with their performance. A winning NFL team in Washington — whatever its name — will have strong local support if it wins.
To build local support for a name change, Snyder should ask fans to come up with the new name. I wouldn’t commit to using whatever name gets the most votes no matter what. You might end up with a successful campaign for naming the team something like the Washington Gridlocks. But a workable name with strong fan support would provide community goodwill from the start.
And there are marketing opportunities for the team and the NFL. Just think of all the new jerseys, pennants and other team paraphernalia that would be sold.
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