On Feb 2, 2022, the Washington Football team finally announced their brand-new team name alongside their new logo and uniforms. Their new name is the Washington Commanders.
This name change initially started July 3, 2020, amidst the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement. The team has been under fire for many years ever since their owner Dan Snyder came out and said that the team would never change their name.
The Navajo Nation said in a statement with ABC News that “July 13, 2020, is now a historic day for all Indigenous peoples around the world as the NFL Washington-based team officially announced the retirement of the racist and disparaging ‘Redskins’ team name and logo. For generations, this team name and logo misrepresented the true history and events that define the term ‘redskins.’”
The Washington Commanders are just the first NFL team to undergo a name change such as this. Another example is the formerly known Cleveland Indians now the Cleveland Guardians. The owner of the baseball club Paul Dolan said in a statement from SB Nation “that he now better understands the situation after speaking to native people, and wants fans to move forward, united, under a new nickname.”
But why hasn’t anyone else changed their names? These teams should be changing their names, logos and nicknames to better fit today’s society.
A prime example of teams that need to change their branding are the Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Braves and the Chicago Blackhawks. These teams currently have no plans to change anything.
The Chiefs got their nickname from the former mayor of the city Harold Roe Bartle who was a non-Native man. Bartle claimed he had been inducted into a tribe of the Arapaho people, whose chief had given him the nickname ‘Lone Bear.’
The Chiefs have banned some items from their games such as Native American headdresses, face paint styled in a way that references American Indian culture and the “tomahawk chop.”
But this is not enough, they need to change their names. It is offensive to the culture. Gaylene Crouser of the Kansas City Indian Center told CBS that they need to “rip the Band-Aid off.”
One reason we believe that the Chiefs have not changed their name is because they are good. If you look at the last few years, the Chiefs have either been in the Super Bowl or have been close. The Commanders received backlash to change their name while they were the second worst team in the league.
Kansas City also sells a lot of jerseys, shirts and other merchandise with the logo of an arrowhead or just the name ‘Chief.’
As for the Atlanta Braves, they said in 2020 “they saw no reason to change their name.” The Cleveland Guardians said that “The Braves had formed a strong relationship with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina. In the past the EBCI has supported the Braves name and the chop.”
Regardless of what the fans and spectators around them personally believe, it is important that all teams be held to the same standards. It is a new day and age and most of these teams were named during a time when there wasn’t as much of a chance for Natives to have a voice in mainstream media. We believe no matter how successful or how much money a particular team has, they shouldn’t be allowed to continue competing under a culturally insensitive name without being held accountable.