The United States Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the Washington Redskins trademark registration, calling the NFL team's name "disparaging to Native Americans." The move, which if upheld on appeal would prevent the team from having exclusive right to the trademark, comes after leaders in Congress and President Barack Obama have come out against the name over the past year.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell defended the name as the embodiment of "strength, courage, pride and respect" in a June 5, 2013, letter to 10 members of Congress who had earlier urged team owner Dan Snyder to change the name of the team. Snyder has repeatedly vowed to never change the name.
D.C. Council member David Grosso introduced a nonbinding resolution in early May 2013 calling on the Redskins to change their name to the Washington Redtails.
There are varying levels of offensiveness with Native American team names and mascots. The greatest offense is taken when the logo and mascot are caricatures viewed as insulting, such as the Cleveland Indian's Chief Wahoo; when the name of the team is often regarded as a racial slur, such as Redskins; or the behavior of the mascot or fans is based upon popular images of Indians which trivializes authentic native cultures. Take a look at many different sports team names and mascots that have drawn controversy over the years.
Washington Bullets. With gun violence on the rise across the country, the Washington Bullets looked for a name change. The Wizards was adopted in 1997 (Michael Jordan retired from the team) and, ironically, caused additional controversy because Washington is a predominantly African-American city and Wizard is a rank in the Ku Klux Klan.
Kansas City Chiefs. The team has been admonished for it's continued use of the team name the "Chiefs." In 2005, things came to a head when the Washington Redskins arrived in K.C., with protesters voicing their disapproval of Native imagery outside the venue.
Atlanta Braves. Possibly one of the most controversial team names and logos in the history of sports, there have been countless attempts to tone down the imagery used on the Braves' products over the years. They have avoided using their ‘screaming Indian’ logo, though, the logo hasn't been officially scrapped yet.
London (Ontario) Rippers. Understandably, many residents in London, Ontario town were upset by the baseball team's name because it referenced the serial killer, Jack The Ripper. The club refused to change its logo, but they lasted just one season in London due to financial issues.
Chicago Blackhawks. This NHL team is just one of many teams that the National Congress of American Indians is asking to change its name and eliminate all Native American names and mascots in sports.
Vancouver Canucks. This NHL team name is deemed offensive because "Canuck" in reference to Canadians is often used as a derogatory term for Canadians. Still, there are some who regard the term as a nickname, not a putdown.
Edmonton Eskimos. The Canadian Football League team The Eskimos have come under fire year after year for their team name, though the logo simply features the letter "E" twice.
Golden State Warriors. Since 1997, the team has removed anything resembling a warrior from their logo, replacing it with an image of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Cleveland Indians. The Indians have been around since 1901, and the use of Chief Wahoo as their mascot has been highly controversial for decades. Despite changing the logo occasionally, it still remains.
University of Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns. With a team names like the Ragin' Cajuns and a mascot named "Cayenne," the school admits that basing the team name on a term considered slang for the people who live in the area may rub people the wrong way.
Boston Celtics. Some find the Boston Celtics' logo - a pot-bellied, Irish leprechaun smoking a pipe - to be ethnically insensitive and controversial.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Similar to the Celtics, a number of groups have complained to the University of Notre Dame concerning the school’s use of a fighting leprechaun in its logo.
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