It’s not often, here at the Hammer, that one is able to write a piece about America’s new “religious right” and sport at the same time. But this little article sure is good.
Change the New Jersey Devils’ name? Is New Jersey State Assemblyman Craig Stanley crazy? What would he prefer? The New Jersey Jesuses? [What is the plural of Jesus?]
Actually though that isn’t too bad. Maybe the New Jersey Gods? Nope it’s blasphemous to think of more than one. The New Jersey Red Seas? Too easily parted and could be confused with the Detroit Red Wings. The New Jersey Holy Ghosts? This would be shortened to “the Ghosts” and then we’re back where we started.
If you’re gonna get rid of a name, get rid of the Washington Redskins. It is the only racist name left in American professional sport (that I know of). Chiefs, Braves, Indians, Blackhawks, these are all fine because they are not derogatory towards Native Americans (“Indians” is a little close to the mark, but it is a classic misnomer from the time of Columbus and they heve removed the hideous logo. At least they aren’t the “Injuns”). “Redskins” was a term akin to “darkies”.
Recently a poll was taken in which the majority of Native Americans said that they were not offended by the term “Redskins” and had no problem with the team using that name. However, when one looked closer at the data you could see that acceptance went down when compared to education level (i.e. the higher the education level the less likely that the name would be accepted). The sample size of this survey was also questionable. Then there is issue of usage. If I say: “Do you mind the name the Washington Redskins?” you say: “Nah, that’s cool”. If I say: “Do you mind me calling you Redskin”, you say something quite different.
Just change the name and quit offending anyone. I’m sure the fans won't care what you're called as long as you win some games (which Washington doesn’t do despite spending the most on players and earning the most from fans).
My hero, Gregg Easterbrook, had some options for the Redskins using cool Native American words:
- Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons – a little long winded perhaps
- Washington Cho Nee - Cho Nee means "large people" in Apache
- Washington Dzeel - in Navajo, Dzeel is the kind of strength that comes from courage
- Washington Idini - Apache for "like thunder"
- Washington Jepziwok - Chippewa for "great athletes"
- Washington Matwesaso - Nanticoke for "courageous" and a relevant choice because the Nanticokes were the dominant tribe of the Potomac region and hence the next name…
- Washington Nanticokes – see above
- Washington Wohnata - Lakota Sioux for "they are champions"
Maybe if the Devils do become the Christs or the Apostles or something, then Washington could be the Devils. Washington the home of the Devils, how apt (scroll down for laffs).