What's in a name?
A new Washington Post survey says that less than 10% of Native Americans polled find the Washington Redskins team nickname offensive. Wait, what?!
Yes, you read that right. Less than 10% of the over 500 Native Americans polled from all 50 states and DC find the name offensive. Most aren't bothered by the term at all in any context, nevertheless sports. Makes ya think.
This issue is supposed to be easy. The term redskin is, by dictionary definition, a slur. I have a hard time getting past that, but if over 90% of the people who are supposed to be offended by that slur aren't moved at all, why would I be upset for them?
Over the past few years as more and more racial issues have become major stories and I've become a real adult (I'm 26 for those that don't know), I've tried to pay attention and learn about how those topics are perceived. White people (I am also white if you couldn't tell by the half a dozen pictures of me on this very website) often don't realize a lot of aspects to these issues and I've made it a point to not be naive or ignorant.
There's so much nuance and subtlety to racial issues because so many of them are institutional. Someone who is institutionally racist out of ignorance should be treated differently than someone who is intentionally a flaming racist. I almost think we should call them different things because it feels like we're impeding progress by lumping them all together, but that's for much smarter people than me who have a far, far greater understanding of those complexities to decide.
My point in saying all of that is to say this: there's no reason this racial issue should be any simpler than other racial issues simply because it's not literally black and white.
It's clear the Redskins as a team intend to honor Native Americans, even if the name didn't start that way in the 1930's when what was acceptable in this country was very, very different. Daniel Snyder's done plenty of outreach to Native American communities, even if much of it came after political pressure started mounting. The organization isn't trying to offend anyone, and that matters to some extent considering how complicated this is.
Again, 90% of the people who are "supposed to be" offended aren't offended by this. If that's true, and the team isn't trying to offend them then what's the big deal?
When framed that way, it's hard to argue with anything other than "the dictionary says it's a slur!" Also, per this very, very worth your time Washington Post article that discusses much of what I have here and more, the roughly 8% of people who are offended combined with the latest US Census says that over 1 million people are offended by the name.
At this point we have an uncomplicated shouting match between two sides completely entrenched in their positions. Have fun with that.
I used the team name while covering them and will continue to do so because I am referring to a football team. That has and will continue to be my justification. There are plenty of words in our language that double for very different meanings. I'm considering this one of them.
In the end, would I like to see the team name changed? Yeah. If it's offending a lot of people (even if it's not a majority percentage) and it's a dictionary definition slur, I think there are worse ideas. However, I'm not going to join the charge to get it changed either. It's a franchise with a ton of history and tradition that has nothing to do with the actual word that is the name and that brand shouldn't be flushed down the toilet without thought and consideration.
This is complicated. It will remain complicated. There are no easy answers. That's life sometimes.
The Actual Football Team
I touched base yesterday with a friend in the building over in Ashburn (a coach specifically) and got some reports back from the first set of off-season workouts last week. Not surprisingly, they were encouraging but this coach is pretty honest and I'm not covering the team on a daily basis anymore so there was no reason for him to blow smoke.
He told me Kirk Cousins and Jordan Reed look completely different from the rest of the team. They're just at another level. Per the coach, Cousins has taken a massive leap in terms of control and confidence. He's completely in command, which is massively important for a quarterback. It's completely his team now and the entire operation centers around him.
Based on that and what I've seen of Cousins with my own eyes, I really do think he's going to have another very good year. He's got plenty of room to grow, but I wouldn't bet against him doing it.
Reed is just a beast. He came in at #77 on the NFL Networks' Top 100 countdown, which is a joke. This coach told me that if he was doing that list, Reed's a top 30 player (the NFL Network list is done by players). Practices turn into "oh. That's why we just paid that guy $9 million dollars a year."
I understand why Reed was #77, but I also vehemently disagree with it. He came on late last year after battling some injuries earlier in the year. He had a massive game against Green Bay in the playoff loss that would've vaulted him up significantly if the Skins won. If he stays healthy this year, he's gonna catch 100 balls and might push up towards 15 touchdowns. He had 12 last year in spite of the injuries. He's just that good.
Last two nuggets from my guy - Josh Doctson is as advertised. He's a rookie who needs a lot of work, but he's got the tools to be a dominant force in the future. We'll see if he develops into that, but he's poised to make some kind of impact this year. Also, Vernon Davis apparently looks good. The coach told me he thinks Davis probably could still run a 4.3 or 4.4. Of course running in a straight line is only a small part of the equation, but athletically Davis is apparently still capable.
I watched the first two and a half quarters of last night's game out at a spot about two miles from my house. I got in my car to leave in the mid-3rd quarter and popped the radio call on. Steph Curry started scoring. Ten minutes later I was home. There had been a timeout in the middle of my drive. Curry had scored 15 points.
The run was 15-2 (Curry over Thunder) over a roughly two minute stretch of the 3rd quarter. He stretched the Golden State lead to 20 and essentially ended the game.
Fifteen points in two minutes puts you on pace to score 80...per quarter. That's how absurd that run was.
Curry isn't the only player in the league capable of getting nuclear hot like that, but what's amazing is how often he does it. We basically expect him to do something in that realm of the absurd every other game. The other game? He'll score his 30 more subtly.
After the game, Kevin Durant said "he makes bad shots" and I hate that thinking if I'm on the Thunder staff. Curry doesn't make bad shots. He redefines what is a bad shot. He's wholly unique in how you have to guard him because shots that are bad for everyone else are good for him. If I'm on that staff and see that quote, I'm lighting into my team during film session to get the point across that this dude is different.
I don't think Durant disrespects Curry at all. He can't at this point after all he's done to the Thunder this season and beyond. However that mindset that he's "making bad shots" is dangerous because it implies somewhere in your subconscious that he's going to start missing them. He's not. He's Steph Curry, basketball shooting super alien from planet make-them-all.
The Good Reads
Just one today. If I come across more, I might come back and add. Enjoy for now!
J.A. Adande for The Undefeated on cleaning up quotes in print stories is really interesting. Quick read worth your two minutes: http://theundefeated.com/features/we-gonna-be-championship-a-new-approach-to-fixing-quotes/