The Redskins’ namesake is not a new problem. For decades, people have been concerned with the racial slur that is their mascot.
Last year, though, the problem reached fever pitch. Suddenly, the debate was on every sports channel and every news program: Would the Redskins change their infamous logo?
Then members of Congress involved themselves instead of allowing the process to sort itself out naturally.
Some in Congress are trying to make a name for themselves by using the issue as a way to get attention. They have threatened the Redskins — a private organization — with a change in tax status, which effectively means a loss in revenue.
It is obnoxious enough to watch a football game with overly attentive referees, but it is even more of a power trip for Congress to get involved in such a matter.
The name “Redskins” is not trivial to some; it is deeply offensive and should be changed. But Congress’ job is not to be commissioner of the National Football League (NFL). It is to safeguard the interests of the United States’ citizens in an increasingly global society. Perhaps Congress should be more concerned with the many injustices occurring around the world, for instance the unrest in Ukraine or Venezuela.
Even then, Congress is assuming an imperialistic role in which it perceives itself as correct and the rest of the world as incorrect. Congress should instead focus on protecting the rights of freedom of speech and expression, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, rather than the dealings of a private organization.
This is not the first time that Congress has intruded upon a professional sports league. It previously heard testimony on Major League Baseball’s (MLB) problems with players using banned substances, including steroids and performance-enhancing drugs.
It is time for certain individuals to stop meddling in an ultra-popular institution just for the sake of notoriety and vote mongering. Sports leagues should have the power and capability to dictate their own regulations, assuming that no laws are violated.
While the name “Redskins” may be offensive, it is not against any laws set forth by the Constitution. Therefore, Congress is outside of its boundaries. In fact, it would violate the Constitution by invading on the Redskins’ rights to freedom of speech and expression.
Matters of pro sports should be sorted out in the public sphere by fans and by teams. Unless Congress plans on donning a black and white striped shirt, it has no place in the realm of athletics.
Juliet Suess is a senior ECLS major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @WklyJSuess.