When Image Meets Law: The Rebranding of a Football Team
Should the Washington Redskins change their age-old logo and name?
Roger Goodell, the N.F.L. commissioner, and Daniel Snyder, the Redskins’ owner, have been adamant about holding firm to tradition — the team has had the name since 1933, when it was based in Boston.
The decision posits free speech vs. trademark law, and in so far as it concerns the former, the Redskins don’t necessarily have to (in general, racist slurs have First Amendment protection). Yet if the Redskins do want to register their trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office, they face stiff opposition to it.
I grew up watching the Redskins play my beloved Dallas Cowboys, and what a rivalry they still have. I do think there would be a bit of history and nostalgia lost should Washington opt to change their name and logo, but it’s a small price to pay for the realization that some images and words do have a cultural effect far beyond crowds, cheers, and paraphernalia. In a couple of years, no one will really care that they’re watching the Washington Senators.
The NY Times has a bit more on this story.