Friday, May 31, 2013

Taking Washington's team name away from Daniel Snyder

The Washington Snyders
Earlier this week, I fired up a takeaway list following up on the effort by ten members of Congress to get the Washington NFL Franchise to end it's age-old practice of naming their team after an obvious and fetid racist insult. (In case you missed it, or the news that inspired it, team owner Daniel Snyder, in a response that surprises no one, has more or less said that a name change away from the current slur is never going to happen.)

So appealing to his better nature -- I just cracked myself up with that -- isn't going to get you anything but older. And means that we need to think more creatively about this.

So since Snyder isn't tractable, and the status quo isn't tolerable, let's look at the people who could actually affect change.

1) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. From the fake refs to Saintsgate to neutered kickoffs to his utterly absurd contract, it's clear that the Ginger Hammer gets what he wants in this league. Getting this team name to change might be the first moment of decent PR that he's had in years. And a way to keep Congress from doing things like, well, digging into the concussion record and horrifying medical mistreatment of former players.

2) High profile NFL announcers. Imagine, for instance, a SNF telecast in which Al Michaels and Cris Collingsworth just spend the entire 3 plus hours referring to "The Washington Franchise" and "First and 10 for the home team" while using the other team's nickname liberally.

Or, better yet, "Washington R Words." That would be fun.

Now, imagine every telecast crew doing that, or it's own version.There's any number of ways around it, really: just refer to them as Opponents, Home or Away, Daniel Snyder's Franchise, etc. Hell, call them the Snyders, Name Withhelds, Occupants or Bleeps. Call them the Natives or Original Americans for all I care; there's a reason why no one's really giving the Kansas City Chiefs that much grief. (Besides the fact that no one cares about the Chiefs outside of the Kansas City area.) Heck, consider it a challenge; a new nickname every week until the team grows up and joins polite society. NAMBLAs works, too. Have fun with it.

See, that's the amazing little fact about team nicknames. They are just mutually agreed conventions, but that agreement and convention is subject to the participation of individuals. And big television people are individuals, and none of them really want to be on the same side as Daniel Snyder on, well, anything.

Just don't use their current name. It's your mouth, Giant Television People. Take control of it.

3) Opposing teams. This one's small but telling; imagine the franchises that are hosting the Snyders not saying the name over the PA. Ever. And how awkward and petty Washington's vengeance on those teams would be at their home games...

4) Gear sellers. It's one thing for the team to sell merch with this name. It's quite another for the providers that carry gear for all NFL teams to go there. Just pull them out of the list, and don't stock them. They are just one of 32 clubs, after all; you might lose some sales, but it won't be an overwhelming amount, and as this would actually cause Snyder to lose money, it might actually get his attention.

5) Individual fans with a social media bent, under the idea that this can go viral.

If we've learned anything about the world in 2013, it's this: going big on the Web can happen at any time, and things can snowball quite easily. Now, this poorly regarded and lightly read sports blog isn't exactly great tinder, but we do have some readers, and those readers have social feeds, and so on, and so on. It doesn't take that much.

So, if you feel the way I do, or just enjoy Snyder's growing discomfort, forward this link and join me in this simple little pledge:

I'm never going to say or type the Washington franchise's currently chosen nickname again.

Daniel Snyder can not make us all repeat a ridiculous and vile racial slur just because he owns a team.

I'm also going to ask any one I come into conversation with to also refrain from the word.

The same way that I wouldn't tolerate people persisting in other speech that I find pointlessly objectionable, and devoid of artistic merit or value.

And all of this might seem small and not very important and not a way to get actual change to happen.... well, sure.

But only if we don't act collectively.

If this becomes a movement, with actual public pressure on media networks and/or a public change at the network level, to the point of decreasing sales of merchandise and causing Snyder to withstand constant and intense public shunning and censure...

Well, maybe the stress kills him, or causes him to snap in a really entertaining way. Or he sells the team, preferably for a lot less money than he'd like to.

Or more people in the greater metro area become fans of the franchise that has won two Super Bowls in this millennium.

Either way, isn't it better than having to explain this name to your kids later, and how you were/are a fan of a team, league and sport that refuses to stand up to a ridiculous racist troll at a time when, well, nearly everyone knew better than to use that word?


Five Tool Ninja said...

You're not alone. A quick Google search uncovers a growing number of newspapers that have (finally!) pledged to stop using race-based team nicknames:

The list includes the Washington City Paper, who now refers to the Washington NFL franchise as the "Pigskins"

Dirty Davey said...

You left out a big one. Trademark law says you can't get protection for a racial slur. There was a suit, but it was tossed for lack of standing--not for a finding on the issue.

So a non-licensed vendor could start making t-shirts and such with the current name, and it's quite likely that NFL Properties would lose in court on the trademark issue.

So some DC resident interested in making some profit could start a t-shirt business and have some effect as well.

Anonymous said...

That's outstanding, though given Snyder's propensity for lawsuits, said resident better have counsel on hand.

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