The demand for conscious re-evaluation of popular logos is one that should be familiar to American sports fans, as discourse surrounding controversial mascots, logos and names has never strayed far from baseball and football. Of those divisive team names, few can compare to the gut reaction incited by the Washington Redskins, which has been the recent focus of a multi-pronged initiative aimed at finally changing the team’s name.
Named the Redskins in 1932 by then-owner George Preston Marshall, the team’s name has been the subject of ire since at least the late 1960s, when student- and activist-led movements to re-examine sports teams named for Native Americans began to emerge. Though the Redskins has begun to remove Marshall’s name from public record, current owner Daniel Snyder has asserted that “we’ll never change the name” since at least 2013.
However, corporate pressure has begun mounting as public outcry continues, citing the racially-charged etymology of the team’s name. FedEx — which sponsors the team’s Landover, Maryland stadium — formally asked Redskins management to change its name on July 2, while investors have begun to pressure Nike and PepsiCo, among other sponsors, to halt financial support of the team. Walmart and Target, meanwhile, have announced plans to drop Redskins merchandise from their stores.
Given today’s announcement by the NFL and the Washington team’s ownership, we are discontinuing the sale of items that reference the team’s name and logo. https://t.co/LtT7m7H3we
— Walmart Inc. (@WalmartInc) July 3, 2020
“We have been in conversations with the NFL and Washington management for a few weeks about this issue,” PepsiCo said in a statement Friday. “We believe it is time for a change. We are pleased to see the steps the team announced today and we look forward to continued partnership.”
The same day, Nike issued a statement claiming that it had “been talking to the NFL and sharing our concerns regarding the name of the Washington team. We are pleased to see the team taking a first step towards change.”
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser offered a more straightforward challenge to Redskins management during a radio interview. “I think it’s past time for the team to deal with what offends so many people,” she said. “This is a great franchise with a great history that’s beloved in Washington and it deserves a name that reflects the affection that we’ve built for the team.” Bowser and the Washington government are currently challenging Redskin owners’ efforts to create a new stadium in the district in light of the resistance to a name change.
Elsewhere, the Kansas City Chiefs, another team questioned for its name, granted Patrick Mahomes the largest contract in sports history
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