Political correctness has infiltrated just about every aspect of our lives here in the United States. Be careful with what you say. Be careful how you say or label certain things. Goodness forbid someone gets offended.
Every part of our society has been picked on and criticized — except for football.
The Washington Redskins have been beating back the call to change its name for years, if not for several decades. Yes, the Redskins' founder, George Marshall, was known as a staunch racist, helping the Redskins to be the very last team in the NFL to draft and recruit black players. Also, before the team was named the Redskins, they were the Boston Braves (obviously playing in Boston). So there is some history with the Indian deviation.
Well, the argument reached a tipping point when the U.S. Patent Office canceled the Redskins' patent and the U.S. Attorney General came out and declared that the Redskins' name is inappropriate. Washington could face federal heat on making a change for the second time in its history.
But our question is, how will this affect the brand? In short, tremendously.
Right now, the Washington Redskins is the third-most valuable NFL team, only behind the Dallas Cowboys and the New England Patriots. Changing a valuable brand like that — the name, uniform, merchandise, stadium, front office, marketing material, etc. — could have a substantial impact on current owner Dan Snyder's wallet. In that case, we can see why the team has been fighting so hard to keep it; it is easier to fight the lawsuits than to create a whole new identity.
Next, we want to ask — is the name really doing any harm? Are there a number of Native Americans who shed tears every time the Washington Redskins' name and logo are shared, or is this just a tactic to make sure every organization has to be uniform? Where are the patent cancellations on the Atlanta Braves, the Cleveland Indians, or the Cincinnati Reds?
Or is baseball no longer the glamorous sport? To prove a point, punch the biggest person in the room. Sorry Redskins, looks like you're the big guy.
Until there is a significant majority of people who are upset, and the Redskins start losing money due to its "brand," it is going to be tough to actually care about this. Again, it's these "advocacy groups" who are searching for injury in order to exclaim victory for a population that is unaware of the struggle.
Stop it. And go Steelers.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.