Washington Redskins Ask Fans Whether They Should Change Name…Again

(Credit: AP)

When veteran Republican messaging consultant Frank Luntz conducted a focus group that included questions about the name of the Washington Redskins, the franchise wouldn’t confirm to ThinkProgress that it was involved. The Washington Post later confirmed that it was, and though the name was just one aspect of the focus groups, it was a major piece given the controversy it has attracted this offseason. Members of Congress and of the D.C. city council have asked the Redskins to change it, newspapers and columnists have decided to stop using it, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has offered a bumbling, largely fact-free defense of it.

Now, the Redskins are asking their fans about the name again. According to the Washington Post’s DC Sports Bog, the Redskins sent an online survey to fans that included at least three questions about the name. One question asks if the name is “rooted in racism” or if it symbolizes, as Goodell asserted, “strength, courage, pride, and respect.” A second asks about an Annenberg Public Policy poll that shows 90 percent of Native Americans supporting the name and the efforts of members of Congress to change it:

Click to enlarge. (Credit: Washington Post)

That Annenberg poll isn’t exactly airtight. It’s a decade old, for one, and it’s not so much a poll of Native Americans as it is a poll of “people who said they were Indians or Native Americans,” which creates interesting self-identification issues given Americans’ willingness to say they have Native American heritage. The Redskins have a history with that sort of problem: in May, they put a supposed Indian chief on their television show to defend the name, except he isn’t a chief and might not even be Native American. It’s likely that most Redskins fans like the name, given that a recent Associated Press poll found that 79 percent of Americans do. But even polling D.C. residents or Redskins fans won’t gather much of what Native Americans think, since the city’s population is 0.6 percent Native American and the suburban areas are roughly similar.

Regardless of the outcome, though, it’s interesting that the Redskins keep putting this issue back in front of people. For a team whose owner vowed just two months ago that the team would “NEVER” change the name, the Redskins sure are asking a lot of people about it.