Washington Redskins controversy: 3 things you need to know

Here are three things to know about the Washington Redskins controversy, and how it may affect the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos' ability to continue with their moniker.

Will the issue force the CFL’s Eskimos to change their name?

FCC considers banning the word "Redskins"

7 years ago
Duration 1:08
FCC considers banning the word "Redskins" 1:08

In the debate regarding the Washington Redskins, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) — the U.S. equivalent to the CRTC — is pondering a move that would discipline broadcasters for using the controversial name.

Many consider it a slur to Native Americans, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told reporters on Tuesday.

With that in mind, here are three things to know about the controversy, and how it may affect the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos:

Why doesn't the NFL simply put pressure on Washington owner Daniel Synder to change the name?

Whether or not commissioner Roger Goodell can influence Snyder to change the team's name seems moot at the moment. That's because Goodell continues to support Snyder on this issue. In June 2013, Goodell defended Snyder's right to keep the name in a letter to 10 members of the U.S. Congress as the group had called on the NFL boss to intervene. And this is what Goodell had to say during his state of the league address two days before the Super Bowl in January: "This is the name of a football team … [and it has been] presented in a way that honours Native Americans," he said, adding that a recent survey showed that nine of 10 Native Americans support the name.

Why doesn't Daniel Synder consider a name change?

Let's start with this quote he gave to USA Today back in 2013: "We'll never change the name. It's that simple. NEVER. You can use caps." While Synder is stuborn, he's a successful owner. In Forbes' latest ranking of the top 50 most valuable franchises, Washington was listed at No. 9 with a value of $1.7 billion U.S.

Merchandising is a big part of Snyder's profit margin. The Redskins sell millions of hoodies, sweaters, T-shirts and coffee mugs with the controversial logo. On a personal level, Synder was a lifelong fan before he bought the team. In his 2013 letter to fans he said that the name stays "true to our history and honouring the deep and enduring values our name represents." He also continues to seek out Native Americans who agree with his position as another defence.

Snyder's defiance won't stop his detractors.

Last week Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" aired a controversial report involving a group of Washington Redskins fans being confronted by Native Americans who want the NFL franchise to change its name and logo.

Will the controversy regarding the Redskins put pressure on the CFL's Eskimos to change their name?

It may depend on the outcome, and it's definitely in the early stages of the debate. Daniel Johnson, Edmonton outreach worker and native studies researcher told CBC News that the name is "outdated, inaccurate and mostly unaccepted in current discourse, and entirely inappropriate for a sports team," adding that "quite a number of people on social media" demanded an Edmonton CFL team name change over the past few years. But Allan Watt, vice-president of communications and marketing for the Eskimos, told CBC News that there is no debate as far as the CFL club is concerned. "We have no backlash from our fans or politicians or any other sort," he said.


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