Copyright © 2013 by Ralph F. Couey
Written content only.
The name of a professional sports team is more than words on a jersey. The name defines the city and the people, providing a valuable source of unity, even in times of deep political division. Teams move from time to time, usually changing the name in the relocation. But the longer a team resides in a place, the stronger that identification can be.
Such is the strong affection between the people of the Washington DC metro area and “their” team, the Redskins.
But the age of political correctness has come to sports. The Redskins’ name has come under scrutiny because of the historically racist connotation. Despite polls which show that the overwhelming numbers of people, even Native Americans, associate the moniker with the team and not the noble peoples that once possessed this land, it should be recognized that the term “Redskin” is by definition just as insulting as the infamous “N-word.”
This dilemma is shared by other teams, such as the Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, and the Chicago Blackhawks. But the Redskins have become a victim of the success brought by the arrival of Robert Griffin III. That success, elevating the team back into the national spotlight, has given new life to the controversy.
The names, or mascots, of sports teams have always followed a certain paradigm. Tradition states that it should be a name associated with strength and power, something that would strike fear or awe into the hearts of opponents. Some names were associated with local history or heritage. Others found inspiration in the animal kingdom. A few simply defy explanation. (What the heck is a Hoya, anyway?) But animals which once provided a…well…stable of possibilities now risk running afoul of animal rights groups.
This issue is rising to a critical level and at some point, the Redskins and the NFL just might be forced into making the change.
So what should the new name be? There are hundreds of ideas already floating in the ether. Everyone agrees that it should be something original and unique, something that would inspire players and fans alike.
Naturally, like everyone else, I have an idea.
My suggestion for the new name of the Washington NFL franchise is…
(Drum roll, please)
The Washington Courage
Veteran political observers will note that the name represents more ideal than reality, given the character of the politicians who inhabit this town. But before you respond with that collective brow-furrowing eye-squinting “Huh?” let me explain.
Courage is defined as “The mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.” The word’s root is the Middle English corage, which arose from the Anglo-French coer, meaning “heart.” Synonyms include such ideals as bravery, daring, fearlessness, gallantry, heroism, and valor.
Conceptually, “courage” infers a certain firmness of mind and will; meeting challenge with fortitude and resilience. And most importantly for a football team, a fierce determination to win.
Courage also speaks of honor and integrity; a continual striving for the highest of ideals. We honor courage in soldiers who have battled in the face of the enemy. But we also honor the courage of those who have stood for principle in the face of sometimes violent resistance.
When we consider the history of America, so focused in the District of Columbia, I can think of no higher appellation for such a city’s representatives to the world.
Of all the nouns I can think of for a football team from Washington D.C. (or Landover, Maryland for that matter), “Courage” fits.
They wouldn’t even have to change the team colors.