“I don’t think there are any Redskins fans that mean offense. I've got to say that if I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team—even if it had a storied history—that was offending a sizeable group of people, I’d think about changing it.
"But I don't want to detract from the wonderful Redskins fans that are here,” Obama told the Associated Press, according to Yahoo Sports. “They love their team, and rightly so—even though they’ve been having a pretty tough time this year. But I think—all these mascots and team names related to Native Americans, Native Americans feel pretty strongly about it. And I don’t know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real, legitimate concerns that people have about these things.”
While the president thinks teams, such as Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves and its Triple-A affiliate, the Gwinnett Braves, should consider changing their names that are potentially offensive or racially insensitive, Atlanta’s mayor doesn’t quite see it that way.
In an interview with 11Alive’s Keith Whitney, Mayor Kasim Reed said he wouldn’t be in favor of Atlanta’s MLB organization, which has gone by the name Braves since 1912, changing names.
"I do not," the mayor told the news outlet. "I think that the name the Atlanta Braves is a name that we should keep; and I have a number of friends who are Indians, and they haven't shared any offense with me about it. So I go by my experiences."
Washington Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder recently sent a letter to fans in which he said he respects “the opinions of those who are offended by the team name . . . we cannot ignore our 81-year history,” according to the Washington Post.
“I’ve listened carefully to the commentary and perspectives on all sides, and I respect the feelings of those who are offended by the team name,” he wrote, the newspaper reports. “But I hope such individuals also try to respect what the name means, not only for all of us in the extended Washington Redskins family, but among Native Americans too.”
Bob Costas of NBC Sports said during halftime of Sunday night's nationally televised game between the Redskins and Dallas Cowboys that the nickname, "is an insult, a slur, no matter now benign the present-day intent."
The nickname Braves is a reference to the warrior subset within certain Native American tribes and reportedly was given to the then-Boston based organization due in part because “their owner, James Gaffney, was a member of New York City's political machine, Tammany Hall, one of the societies originally formed to honor Tamanend, a chief of the Delaware.”
Over the last few decades, a handful of universities, including Stanford, Syracuse, Marquette, St. John’s and Miami of Ohio, have voluntarily or been pressured to change their names and mascots in an effort to be less racially insensitive to the more than five million Native Americans living in the United States.