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Associated Press | File
Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder (left) listens to head coach Mike Shanahan at Redskins Park. Snyder says he'll never change the name of his team.
Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin, left, argues with umpire Angel Hernandez after a review failed to turn a double by Adam Rosales into a home run in the ninth inning of the A's baseball game against the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday, May 8, 2013, in Cleveland. Melvin was ejected. The Indians won 4-3. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Daniel Snyder is making it awfully difficult to stay neutral on this one.
Asked last week by a USA Today reporter if the Washington Redskins would consider changing their nickname if the team loses its ongoing federal trademark lawsuit, the owner didn't mince words.
"We'll never change the name," Snyder said. "It's that simple. NEVER - you can use caps."
Such a pointed comment no doubt will be cheered by a sizeable portion of the Redskins fan base. Snyder knows that. Happy fans are good for business, and a guy who's done plenty to tick off his team's supporters over the years can use all the help he can get in that department.
The rest of us? Well, I've always kind of thought this long battle over the Redskins name was none of our business. I can't tell an American Indian whether or not he should be offended by the name. And what percentage are offended? Ten? Forty? Eighty? Taking up a moral cause for another group can be a pretty arrogant thing to do when you don't know how strongly they feel about it themselves.
Likewise, I can't tell a Redskins fan that he shouldn't want to hang on to the only name he's only known for the football team he loves.
But Snyder's statement changes things. The pompous nature of his words - without a hint of sensitivity or understanding that somebody might not think the way he does - reshapes the argument.
On one side, you've got Amanda Blackhorse, a Navajo who is the named plaintiff in a federal suit in which five American Indians seek to strip the federal trademark rights from the Washington team. They argue the term is derogatory to their people.
On the other side, you've got a rich white guy who's used to getting what he wants and seems to be tone deaf to the fact that not everyone thinks like him.
There are ways to say you're going to stand your ground and still show respect to the opposing side. Coaches and athletes do it all the time - before games, after games, in victory and defeat. A little common decency isn't too much to ask.
Snyder had a chance to expand on his reasoning, to defend the team name while still acknowledging that the other side might have some legitimate points.
He didn't do a very good job of it.
"As a lifelong Redskins fan," he told USA Today, "and I think that the Redskins fans understand the great tradition and what it's all about and what it means, so we feel pretty fortunate to be just working on next season."
That's all you've got?
Look. Political correctness is a loaded phrase these days. To me, that's not what this is about. It's about being respectful of other people. Snyder is whiffing.
I hope he loses this one.
Replay isn't the answer for baseball
Major League Baseball's suspension and fine of umpire Fieldin Culbreth for a blatant botching of the rules is a good first step in increasing accountability, but the sport needs to do more.
If you missed it Thursday night, Culbreth and his crew allowed the Astros to make a pitching change without Wesley Wright - who had entered as a reliever - having thrown a live pitch. Doubt there's a high school coach or umpire in Timesland who doesn't know that's forbidden (interestingly, Astros manager Bo Porter said he thought the move was allowed).
The gaffe came a day after umpires in Cleveland appeared to miss an obvious home run even after reviewing the replay.
That's why replay isn't the answer. The answer is increased transparency with MLB umpires, some of whom are out of control with their hubris.
Require the crew chiefs to stick around for 10 minutes after the game and answer questions from a pool reporter. If there are no questions, great, go home. If there are, then explain the calls so fans get the full picture.
Just like the Snyder situation, a little better communication here would solve a lot of perception problems.
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