In a recent interview, President Obama admitted that nicknames like the "Redskins" can offend large groups of people. He also conceded that he doesn't believe fans of Washington's football team are out to mock or offend Native Americans.
Essentially, Obama didn't pick a side, instead stating the facts that must be taken into consideration:
I don't know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real legitimate concerns that people have about these things. I don't want to detract from the wonderful Redskins fans that are here. They love their team and rightly so.
Obama also pointed out that American Indians "feel pretty strongly" about team names that play off negative stereotypes or cast the group in an unfavorable light.
Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports passes along the Washington Redskins' response to President Obama, via attorney Lanny Davis, on Sunday, Oct. 6:
As a supporter of President Obama, I am sure the President is not aware that in the highly respected independent Annenberg Institute poll (taken in 2004) with a national sample of Native Americans, 9 out of 10 Native Americans said they were not bothered by the name the "Washington Redskins." The President made these comments to the Associated Press, but he was apparently unaware that an April 2013 AP poll showed that 8 out of 10 of all Americans in a national sample don't think the Washington Redskins' name should be changed.
The Redskins respect everyone. But like devoted fans of the Atlanta Braves, the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Blackhawks (from President Obama's hometown), the fans love their team and its name and, like those fans, they do not intend to disparage or disrespect a racial or ethnic group. The name "Washington Redskins" is 80 years old -- its history and legacy and tradition. The Redskins' fans sing "Hail to the Redskins" every Sunday as an expression of honor, not disparagement.
Despite being president, Obama has no say in whether the Redskins change their nickname. The decision is ultimately up to team owner Daniel Snyder, who told USA Today back in May that the franchise "will never" change its name.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has weighed in as well, originally defending the nickname in a response to a letter from Congress back in June. In a radio interview on 106.7 The Fan in Washington last month, Goodell changed his tune, admitting that "if one person is offended, we have to listen."
It remains to be seen if President Obama will follow suit and take a firmer stance in the future.
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