By Stephen Sonneveld
Looking to strip away the emotions surrounding this explosive issue, Singer, a freelance writer, is interested in advancing this debate from the dispassionate perspective of whether it would be in the economic interests of the franchise to create a new identity.
On Nov. 12, Singer began a Kickstarter campaign with the intention of having the global consulting firm, Accenture, conduct the appropriate market research needed to determine such information.
The Kickstarter campaign for “Washington 3.0” is scheduled to end on Dec. 13, and, as of this writing, has not yet met the intended goal.
Singer took the time this past weekend to answer some questions about the sensitive name change topic, the intended research Accenture would be doing, and what he hopes will be a “community-based and community-supported initiative.”
GS: I do not know that the Washington football franchise cares about the moral implications of their team's current name, especially given how lucrative their business is. For years, I've wondered if there was a better way to approach the conversation. From a business perspective, if there is an economic reason to consider updating the trademark, it would make the transition to an appropriate name that much more straightforward. It could be good business, good public relations, and a way to reinvigorate the franchise.
Maybe the owners have done their own market research, though I wouldn't imagine they would be forthcoming with the results. Knowing that the winds of change are blowing, it's like oil companies doing research on alternative energy technologies, so they are prepared in the future when the market shifts. Meanwhile, they are happy to benefit from their current business model and the profitability of their revenue streams.
SS: I understand you wish to take an unbiased approach to this proposal and survey, but shouldn’t the ethical issue of a racial slur being employed and profited from be more important than any economic considerations? The South had a good economic case for keeping slavery, an immoral practice.
GS: To minimize the emotional sensitivities surrounding this issue, we are facilitating the project in a very sympathetic, respectful, data-driven way. If we have the resources to do this independent research, the hope is to encourage the franchise owners to consider a name change for economic reasons. It is a lesser approach, but maybe one that would make sense for them. Ultimately, the Washington football franchise is theirs to do with as they choose.
For example, in the early 1960s, the franchise owners refused to integrate their team to allow non-whites to play, presumably because of their strong southern fan base. However, when it became apparent that their team (i.e., their business) was suffering for it, amid legal and economic pressures, the owners relented and the Washington franchise became the last professional football team to align with the social reform of the time.
The justice and dignity that Native Americans deserve should be advanced according to moral reasons alone. Unfortunately, much of the decision-making of the modern world centers around economics.