The Washington Redskins announced on Monday they will officially be changing their team name, one that has often come under harsh criticism from Native Americans throughout the franchise’s history.
What will Washington’s NFL football team change its name to? That has yet to be determined as of this writing. However, no matter what the new name is, many of Washington’s fans are so incensed and disappointed by this, they say they will no longer support the team.
In a way, I guess I can see where they’re coming from. In all honesty, as a die-hard football fan, one who has followed all-things NFL since the age of 7, I’ve said the name “Redskins” millions of times without even considering the insensitive nature of it. Therefore, I can understand why even long-time fans with their hearts in the right place would still be displeased with this decision.
But would it bother me to the point of never watching that team again? I get the brand identity, the color schemes and the rich history—and despite their struggles under owner Daniel Snyder, believe it or not, the Redskins really do have a rich history that includes three Super Bowl championships—I doubt a name change would drive me away.
As a life-long Steelers fan, I don’t think it would kill me if they changed their name. I mean, it would be different. It would be sad. It would take time to get used to. But at the end of the day, I don’t think it would bother me all that much. Don’t get me wrong, I might initially be disappointed in the new name that would almost surely be voted on by the fans, almost surely have something to do with steel, and almost surely sound like something a football team would be named in the 1950s.
But it wouldn’t be a deal-breaker. Why? Because the name “Pittsburgh” would still precede “Ironmen” or “Hardhats” or whatever the new name would happen to be.
At the end of the day, Pittsburgh would still have a professional football team, and that team would still have a rich history of success which included six Super Bowl titles and so many Hall of Famers, I don’t even feel like Googling the actual amount at the moment.
We’re trained to endure a lot as fans, especially in the modern era, with free agency designed to take certain players away just as we’re getting attached to them.
But the one constant is having a team to root for each and every season. It’s the bond between team and town. It’s a bond that endures through inexplicable losses in the playoffs, losing seasons and even major scandals.
I root for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but I root for them because they’re MY team who represents MY city. They’re out there fighting to bring me pleasure each and every week. Heck, they’re out there giving it their all for folks who have never even been to Pittsburgh but feel a connection to the team, nonetheless.
A name is important, yes. But what that name represents is even more important. No matter what the Pittsburgh Steelers changed their name to, as long as the organization embodied the same spirit under the new name that it did under the old one, it wouldn’t matter to me.
There are cities that have lost teams they’ve loved and have been forced to fall for new ones—Baltimore and Houston are just two such cities that come to mind.
If they could find a way to love an entirely new team, I think I could find a way to love a new team name.