“Redskins” isn’t a divider. It’s a uniter.
In a divided America, one alleged controversy–the Washington Redskins–actually unifies. Very few people want the team nickname changed.
An ESPN poll shows that more than seven in ten Americans support Washington’s NFL franchise keeping its nickname. Just 23 percent support changing the name. Langer Research conducted the survey for the network’s Outside the Lines advocacy program.
By way of comparison, just four candidates for the presidency have enjoyed more than sixty percent of the popular vote in the last two hundred years. In polling on contentious topics, Gallup reports that 47 percent of Americans call themselves “pro-choice,” 55 percent support gay marriage, and 41 percent wish to decrease immigration (versus 22 percent in favor of increasing). In other words, the controversy over “Redskins” exists on television but not among the tpeople watching it.
A majority of NFL players surveyed in an ESPN-described “non-scientific” poll support the name but in a majority less overwhelming than the network’s proper poll. The survey counted 58 percent of NFL respondents in favor of the nickname and 42 percent against.
Among the general public, the pollsters found consistency across lines of race and sex. “Politically, however, 89 percent of Republicans and 88 percent of people who consider themselves conservative say the team should keep its name, compared to just 58 percent for Democrats and 53 percent for liberals, according to the poll,” reports ESPN. “In terms of political leanings, 83 percent of Republicans see no disrespect in the Redskins name. That drops to 68 percent of independents and 57 percent of Democrats.”
The survey comes on the heels of ESPN allowing on-air talent to say or not say the name and several network personalities issuing strong words for and against the nickname. “This is so stupid it’s appalling,” analyst Mike Ditka said last month of calls for a name change. He remarked of the detractors, “It’s all the politically correct idiots in America.” Late-night host Keith Olbermann, who regards “Redskins” as racist, announced on his show that “it is time for us here…to stop using the name.”