Social Media Versus NFL’s Third-Most Valuable Franchise

In social media, passions run high. In sports, passions run even higher. Recently, a social media fire storm has flamed between Dan Snyder, owner of the NFL’s third most valuable franchise – the Washington Red Skins – and social media. Advocates to change the name of the NFL team have propelled a controversy that began decades ago. But, because of the nature of social media, the story can be covered exhaustively, and through multiple channels.

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In an AdWeek article from September 30th, CEO of TRP Sports and Entertainment Marketing, Chip Rives states, “Conversations that used to happen around the watercooler now happen all over the world in real time. It gives a bigger voice to those who are more active and passionate about the issue.”

Even mainstream media outlets like USA Today, Sports Illustrated, Slate and Mother Jones have joined in and refused to use the team’s name. The Redskins’ own hometown paper, The Washington Post, recently wrote, “The team’s name is a racial slur of Native Americans so offensive that it should no longer be tolerated.”

Snyder’s response to the social media press has been defensive and brusque at best, stating that the Redskins’ name is a source of pride and tradition to fans, and insisting that it was never intended as an insult to Native Americans. In an interview with USA Today, Snyder stated, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER—you can use caps.”

What do you think? Will social media convince Snyder to ultimately change the name of the Washington Red Skins?

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4 thoughts on “Social Media Versus NFL’s Third-Most Valuable Franchise

  1. I have a feeling it will take more than just social media pressure to get Snyder to change the name of the team. Like you said, passion in sports runs extremely high. I think that the only way Snyder will change the name is if he faces legal charges or a hit to his bottom line as a result of keeping the name.

  2. I agree with Jackelyn that Snyder will only change the name of the Washington Red Skins team if he faces legal charges. In Snyder’s defense, he did not name the team, instead inherited the team name when he became owner in May 1999. Also, out of respect for the team’s fans and players, Snyder realizes the potential outrage that could ensue should he change the name. If he did, he’d put his team in jeopardy of loosing fans and potentially recognition in the NFL.

  3. A really good bet is that Social Media will increase the perception of the name being bad whether it is or not. As the research suggests, negativity/anger spread the quickest in social media. What percentage of social media users verify the info they receive before jumping on the angry bandwagon?

    A couple of minutes of research…

    1. Highly respected independent Annenberg Institute poll (taken in 2004) with a national sample of Native Americans, 9 out of 10 Native Americans said they were not bothered by the name the Washington Redskins.

    2. Smithsonian Institution senior linguist and curator emeritus Ives Goddard asserts that the actual origin of the word is benign and reflects more positive aspects of early relations between Indians and Caucasians.

    Let me just say that I don’t have enough info to take sides on the issue. Like anything else, there is a lot of research to do and nothing is ever what it seems. To answer the questions posed by the post, I don’t think this will cause change, but I do think SM tends to bias things towards the negative. Based on discussions from the class, I don’t think Synder can hope this away. I think the franchise needs to come up with a fact based SM response.

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