Recent conversations around race in the USA have made some large corporations – like sports teams – look at their histories a little differently.
Or so it would seem – the Washington Redskins, which is named after a racial slur for indigenous people in the US, said that they would be changing their name after a protracted review period.
The name? For the rest of this football season, it will be “Washington Football Team”, which doesn’t really sound like a real team at all.
To be fair, the name is only in place until 13 September, which is the regular season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. But even so, people aren’t impressed.
They’re not offended – just amused.
Some others, predictably, were unimpressed for different reasons – that the team had caved to pressure from “snowflakes” and that they should have kept their original name.
They saw it as a part of a larger culture war, rather than recognising that a racial slur is just not a good word to have in the name of a team.
Terry Bateman, who’s the executive VP and chief marketing officer of the Washington Redskins franchise, pointed out that the process for a real rebranding will actually take 12 to 18 months, when speaking to ESPN.
He said that the team may have had over 1,000 names submitted:
A lot has an idea, but it's much bigger than that. Even if we had the name 100 per cent locked in, to physically get it done before the football season starts would be between hard and impossible.
The Washington Football Team had been called the Washington Redskins for over 87 years.
Previous attempts to get the name changed had been met with a lot of defensive behaviour. The team owner, Dan Snyder, said that he would never make such a move.
Until September, when the team hopes to announce a new, permanent name, the team’s helmets will have their numbers in gold over the logo (which was a racist caricature) and the uniforms will have the same fix.
So some elements of the team’s response may be temporary. But it will probably take a lot longer (and a bit more effort) to come up with new chants – Washington Football Team doesn’t really roll off the tongue.