Thursday, March 13, 2014

Guard the Post: Sport is a business, but should the bottom line always be the first concern?

Patrick Hruby, keynote presenter at the first annual Sport for Social Change conference, said yesterday, "when someone tells you it's not about the money, it's probably about the money. And when that same someone won't even acknowledge said money, it's definitely about the money." A few weeks back, I highlighted the current state of the movement to change the name of the Washington football franchise. Naturally, it has developed. Again.

The Washington (redacted)'s, following a stint in Boston, have been playing in our nation's capital since September 16, 1937, originally started in 1933. This coming September, the (redacted) will begin their 81st season. 81 years, also the average life span of an American citizen (fun facts), is a long time; no one is arguing that. I am sure that countless girls and boys in metropolitan DC have grown up wearing their headpieces and maroon and gold and could never imagine anything different on Sunday afternoons.

The issue though, is that this indoctrination has come at the expense of thousands of Native Americans who set foot on this land mass we call the "U-S-A" well before any European settlers. By maintaining the name of this franchise, many people, all of which are US citizens, have been subjected to harassment and remembrance of past discrimination in their culture and in society. This subjugation should not be allowed to continue and, in fact, could be fixed quite easily; change the name.

Why has the Washington football franchise ownership been so against changing the name? The original argument was that ownership could not "ignore our 81-year history." Please, don't ignore 81 years of football franchise history, but ignore the 245 year history of the "white man" using this phrase racially against Native Americans. So clearly that argument has its own faults, but what other defenses do the owners have?

The history argument is the one that they stick by and vocalize, but clearly they have another piece of leather they are concerned about. Their wallets.

Yes, he always looks that confused. reports that Washington (redacted)'s owner Daniel Snyder is worth $1.2 billion. It has been estimated that it would cost between $10m and $20m to change the name and completely rebrand the organization.

$20,000,000 / $1,200,000,000 = .0167. Yes, Daniel Snyder could end this debate with 1.7% of his net worth. In fact, in 2012-2013 season, the (redacted)'s turned a revenue of $381 million and was valued at $1.7 billion, approximately $950m more than it was purchased for in 1999 years. Clearly, this franchise is not struggling for money.

In fact, last week, Washington's General Manager Bruce Allen made a subliminal comment about the "plaintiffs", saying that rather than asking him about money, the media should be asking those complaining about the name. If he actually thinks that people are looking for remuneration from the franchise, he is out of his mind (but now I kind of wish they would).

It is not clear what exactly the franchise is hiding behind and what their genuine reasons are for not changing a name that has over 2.5 centuries of degradation and negative connotation. Allen and Snyder, it is time to change the name.


Kevin Murray is a Pre-Junior Sport Management Major at Drexel University, originally from Havertown, PA. He worked in the Drexel Sport Management Department as a Research Assistant focusing on the Penn State scandal, equity in collegiate sports, and Title IX.  He completed his first co-op last spring with Drexel Athletics External Relations Department, where he still works part-time. He is currently a Resident Assistant in University Crossings, a member of the Undergraduate Student Government Association, and Vice President of SMTSU.  You can follow Kevin on Twitter @kevinj_murray.

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