Hail to the Redskins? Public Reactions to a Racially Insensitive Team Name

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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  • 1 The George Washington University
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The use of American Indian team names, mascots, and symbols has stirred considerable controversy over the last decade. This paper focuses on public attitudes toward the most frequently objected-to team name, the Redskins, Washington, DC’s professional football team. Data from 2 surveys, one local and the other national, establish that very few members of the general public see any need to change Redskins to another name. Support for a name change is significantly higher among racial or ethnic minorities; the more highly educated; and those who are not fans of professional football in general or the Washington team in particular. However, even in those parts of the public, support is far outweighed by opposition. These findings stand in stark contrast to the idea that Americans now routinely disassociate themselves from ideas and stereotypes that might convey the impression that they are racially insensitive.

L. Sigelman is with the Department of Political Science at the George Washington University, Washington, DC 20052.

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