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Poll: The Washington Redskins Should Keep Their Name

Monday, February 9, 2015

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 3, 2014 - In spite of complaints and protests that it is racist against American Indians, a majority of respondents in a recent nationwide poll say the NFL’s Washington Redskins should keep their name.

According to the poll by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute Powered by Trib Total Media, 56.5 percent of respondents oppose the team changing its name: 34.2% said they “strongly oppose” changing the name and 22.4 percent said they “somewhat oppose” a name change.

Only 27.5 percent of respondents said they support the Redskins changing their name:  11.5 percent “strongly support” a change and 16.0 percent “somewhat support” a change.  Others, 16.0 percent, were unsure.

RMU’s Ed Karshner, who is an expert in Navajo culture and current affairs, was disappointed by the results of the poll but stressed that the name of a pro sports franchise is the very least of American Indians’ problems.

“I find the name offensive. But if the name were changed, what would that fix? The Navajo will still live in poverty and have astronomical unemployment,” said Karshner, an associate professor of English studies and communication skills. “I would like to see this controversy channeled into a discussion about attitudes and actions toward Native Americans. Then, maybe, there would be meaningful change.”

Dave Synowka, head of the Department of Sport Management at RMU, noted that several college and professional sports teams have addressed the American Indian-themed names. Some colleges have adopted other nicknames, while professional franchises such as the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians kept their names while de-emphasizing logos and mascots that were caricatures of American Indians.

Washington Redskins’ owner Daniel Snyder has aggressively defended the team’s name, and has had the support of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Synowka said the results of the RMU poll would seem to support the team’s and league’s position.

“This is a major professional sports franchise with millions of dollars in marketing and merchandising at stake,” said Synowka.

ABOUT THE POLL: The poll was conducted by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute Powered by Trib Total Media. Polling by the Institute is conducted on a regular basis and may also include spontaneous polling on occurring events. RMU polls have been featured in national media outlets including The New York Times, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, and Huffington Post. Go to rmu.edu/poll for more information.

METHODOLOGY: The poll sampled opinions of 1004 approximately proportional to state population contribution nationwide. The survey was conducted Nov. 24 to Dec. 5, 2014. All surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument. The poll has a +/- 3.0 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level on a composite basis.

ABOUT ROBERT MORRIS UNIVERSITY: Through 60 undergraduate and 20 graduate degree programs across five academic schools, Robert Morris University (RMU) in Pittsburgh, Pa., works to change its students' lives so that they can go out and change the lives of others for the better. More than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate, nontraditional and online students from 37 states and 37 nations are enrolled at RMU, which sits on 230 scenic acres just 20 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh. Emphasizing experiential learning, Robert Morris focuses on professional development, service learning, global awareness, undergraduate research, campus leadership, and cultural experiences, all of which are documented on our innovative Student Engagement Transcript. More than 100 clubs and organizations help students to develop leadership skills, network professionally, and meet friends. RMU also has 16 NCAA Division I athletic programs, including football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s ice hockey, and men's and women's lacrosse. Learn more at rmu.edu.

ABOUT TRIB TOTAL MEDIA: Trib Total Media is a multimedia network of daily and weekly newspapers, weekly shoppers, and websites delivering news, information and advertising to over 1.2 million readers across Western Pennsylvania every week. Trib Total Media also provides targeted direct mail, commercial printing and promotional item services. Visit us online at tribtotalmedia.com and get it right. Now.