As The Team Name Controversy Deepens, Redskin Brand Name Losing Value
With the NFL season underway, the Washington Redskins continue to ardently defend their team name against a rising tide of critics. As a result, more and more fans are shying away from buying shirts, hats and other team merchandise.
According to a recent CNN report, sales of Redskins gear have plunged about 35 percent leading into the 2014 NFL season, a period when NFL merchandise overall rose about 3 percent, according to SportsSourceOne, which tracks sales of licensed merchandise, a possible indication that NFL fans are shying away from apparel which promotes a logo that many now feel is racist.
A team spokesman claims the drop in merchandise has more to do with the team's 3-13 record last season, though other teams with lackluster 2013 records haven't experienced a similar decrease in sales.
The recent decline in merchandise sales is just the latest backlash the team has faced. In June, a federal trademark board ruled the team's moniker to be "disparaging of Native Americans" and that the franchise's trademark protections should be cancelled. This decision is just the latest attempt by the federal government to apply financial and political pressure on the team to change its name. The Redskins have appealed the decision, so for now, the trademark stands.
The D.C. team has also faced pressure from within the league and its broadcasting partners. It has recently come to light that former NFL referee Mike Caray had asked not to work Redskins games because he found the name to be offensive.
And on Wednesday, a group campaigning for the Redskins to change their name asked broadcasters to stop saying "Redskins" during games. In a letter sent to NBC, CBS, Fox, ABC, ESPN and the NFL Network, the term was described as a “government-defined racial slur” that has been used to disparage American Indians “throughout history.” The letter, sent by the Change the Mascot movement headed by the Oneida Indian Nation of New York, was signed by more than 100 Native American, religious and civil rights organizations.
Several prominent broadcasters, including Bob Costas and Phil Simms, have either spoken out against the name or say they don’t intend to use it. Also Wednesday, the New York Daily News announced it will no longer refer to the team as the “Redskins” on its sports pages. The paper also said it will stop using the team’s Indian-head logo.