All Politics is Local, Business and Money, Education, History, People, Scribblings, Sports Fix, The Features

The Football Name Debate: Are We Missing the Point?

“The debate is over about the R-word; it’s now about whether if it’s proper to have a football team in this country carry on using a defined slur.” That was the closing statement by Jacqueline Pata, the Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). Her comment capped off a forum at the Center for American Progress, Missing the Point: The Real Impact of Native Mascots and Team Names on American Indian and Alaska Native Youth. The Center released a new report that examined several bodies of research about the harmful impact of mascot representations on the self-esteem of AI/AN youth, how they create a hostile learning environment, and the decades-long movement to retire them. The report by Erik Stegman and Victoria Phillips looks at recent key findings and incorporates statements from several Native youths, providing context that is relevant today regarding the use of these mascots and imagery.

Sitting on today’s panel was Pata; Travis Waldron, Sports Reporter, ThinkProgress.org; Mark Macarro, Chairman, Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians; Dr. Michael Friedman, Clinical Psychologist; and Erik Stegman, Associate Director, Center for American Progress. The forum started with very poignant remarks by fifteen-year-old Dahkota Franklin Kicking Bear Brown, a student at Argonaut High School in California, and a Champion for Change at the Center for Native American Youth. Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) also spoke briefly at the event.

Over the last year, the debate over the use of the slur by the Washington professional football team has largely centered on issues of economics and fan nostalgia. The larger issue at hand, however, is beyond the sports soundbites that dominate this discussion. Data and research now shows that the use of such racist and derogatory team names (and by association, ‘traditions’ and fan antics) have real and detrimental effects on Native youth today. With fifty percent of the Native population being of 25 years of age or younger, the danger of perpetuating this practice and continuing the cycle of defeatism, hostile learning environments, and poor self-esteem is all too real. Continue reading

History, Sports Fix, The Features, WTF?!

What’s In a Football Name? Snyder Thinks He Knows – And He’s Wrong

So this popped out the other day.

It’s no secret how I feel about the whole name thing with the Washington football team. I oppose it. I think it’s racist. I have several personal issues with the name. But that’s not why I decided to post something about it.

The letter is a poor public relations attempt, mostly to mollify diehard team fans who will, unto the bitter end, support the racist moniker. Not out of reason, but blind emotion.

Hey, I get it. I understand why. Team fandom is a complicated, deep, personal thing that involves a lot of emotional investment and history. It’s difficult to hear that your beloved franchise is doing something wrong – simply by using a name (and by extension, mascot and other fan accoutrements).

The problem comes when that moniker is unveiled to be racist. The Washington issue isn’t anything new; it’s been around for decades. The movement today has found new momentum and has begun to find rightful traction in righting a wrong. (Just like the Civil Rights Movement began finding traction nearly one hundred years after Emancipation.)

The first third of Snyder’s letter is a play on his loyal fanbase’s emotional strings. “I still remember…the passion of the fans…the ground beneath me seemed to move and shake…he’s been gone for 10 years now…” All phrases and words evoking emotions and certainly causing the reader to recall their own cherished memories. Setting them into their defensive stance, so that the rest of the letter, which uses standard PR spin and deft deflection, only ratchets up the emotional volume for their impassioned – and misguided – defense.

Oh, and then there’s the trite “Our past isn’t just where we came from–it’s who we are” phrase. Bolded and italicized, even. Because it’s important!  Continue reading

Business and Money, Downtown, Education, Essential DC, History, Life in the Capital, Opinion, People, The Features

A Conversation on Culture and Change Regarding the Washington [blank]s

Photo courtesy of BrianMKA
FedEx seats
courtesy of BrianMKA

By now, local Washington media has covered the internet with their summaries of a timely – yet still largely ignored – issue involving a particular football team located in this area. While Racial Stereotypes and Cultural Appropriation in American Sports spoke to the broader issues regarding Native American culture and peoples and their use as sports logos and traditions, make no mistake: the local NFL team’s moniker was a lynchpin in the discussion. The topic was subject of one-third of the day’s symposium, and itself is well-covered elsewhere. (You can watch the recording online in its entirety.)

I couldn’t attend in person, so I settled for the live webcast. And I’ve spent time re-watching the panels as well, because there was so much information and passion involved I couldn’t catch all of it the first time around. I could probably write several blog posts about the topic, and may yet in the future.

But what I wanted to really comment here and now, since other outlets are more focused on the local team aspect, is some key comments made by Director Kevin Gover at the start of the day. Thanks to NMAI, I received a full copy of his remarks; they provide a context that is important to the background of the overall discussion. While I won’t simply copy them all here – you can listen to Dr. Gover online for that – I did want to point out some relevant comments. Continue reading

Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

The Best Week in DC Sports just got better

Photo courtesy of BrianMKA
Harper glare
courtesy of BrianMKA

The Wizards finished their season with six straight wins, D.C. United is 2nd in the Eastern Conference after a hot start, the Redskins have drafted Robert Griffin III to be their next quarterback, the Capitals won a pivotal Game 7 against Boston to advance to the next round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and lastly, the Nationals have started their season 14-5 and have the best pitching staff in the National League and possibly all of baseball.

Late today, the Nationals announced that Ryan Zimmerman would be joining Brad Lidge, Michael Morse, Drew Storen and Chien-Ming Wang on the DL, and that Bryce Harper would make his major league debut tomorrow night at Chavez Ravine in Los Angeles.  So far, Harper’s not lighting up the AAA league quite as he had with the lower levels of the minor leagues, but it’s hard to deny the talent of the youngest member of the elite athletes club of Washington.

Can Harper make a difference at the Major League level? That depends on the Bryce Harper we get. This is one of those wonderful moments where a team has decided, “Alright, screw it, let’s give the kid a chance.” There’s no guarantee that Harper’s ready, though the expectations for him are nothing short of towering. Will he have a Strasburg moment tomorrow night in Dodger Stadium? Can he bring some offense to left field, where the Nationals have struggled to put anything in the offense column?

DC sports fans have been waiting for answers to these pressing questions since the summer of 2010 when the Nationals took Harper with the top pick of the draft. Will he be the next Ken Griffey Jr., or will he be the next Todd Van Poppel? It all starts tomorrow night at 9:10pm. Don’t miss it.

Sports Fix

Redskins 2011 Season Preview

Photo courtesy of
‘Young|Veteran’
courtesy of ‘Danilo.Lewis|Fotography’

The story of the 2010 Washington Redskins needs no retelling. If the images of McNabb sulking on the sidelines and Haynesworth rolling on the ground aren’t burned into your memory then you weren’t paying attention. It can be argued that the issues with McNabb were partly his being taken out of comfortable surroundings and then feuding with the Shanahans. What cannot be argued is that McNabb threw a career high in interceptions with 15 and his lowest number of touchdowns since 2003 with 14, and his 77.1 passer rating was his worst since his rookie season in 1999 when he had a passer rating of 60.1. At the age of 34 Donovan McNabb had the worst season of his career, and he found himself benched for Rex Grossman in the final three games.

The main issues with the Redskins in 2010 were the same as they have always been. They continued to try and be the off-season champs with the trade for McNabb and stuck with Albert Haynesworth in the 3-4 defense despite his objections that he was not that type of player. Haynesworth swore that by working out with his personal trainer he would be ready for the 2010 season, but he failed multiple fitness tests and missed time in training camp. This season the Redskins do not have a McNabb, Portis, or Haynesworth, but what they might have is a team. The 2010 Redskins were seen as a disappointment more because of the expectations than the results. The team finished with the record the talent dictated it should.

The Redskins have made it a habit to ignore problems at the bottom and middle of the roster and to try and go for the big splash. The Redskins never wanted to put a team on the field. They wanted a collection of stars they hoped would play well together and cover up shortcomings at non-glory positions like the offensive and defensive line. When the big name signings and trades failed the Redskins ended up left with nothing and struggled through season after season. This off-season the Redskins took a different approach. They traded 35 year old defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday to the Cardinals for 24 year old running back Tim Hightower. In 13 games started for the Cardinals in 2010 Hightower averaged 4.8 yards a carry and 46 yards a game with an average of only 9.6 carries a game. A league average running back average 4.2 yards a carry in 2010. With a normal workload of between 20-25 carries a game Hightower could provide a vast improvement to the Redskins running game.
Continue reading

Sports Fix

Sports Fix: Delayed Gratification Edition

DSCN0905
DSCN0905 by bhrome

Capitals
Record: 23-12-5, 51 points
Last Two Weeks: 4-0-1
Place: Tied for first in the Southeast, Fifth in the East

We’re pretty much at the halfway point of the 2010-2011 Season, and the Caps have settled into a winning groove after their brutal losing streak in early December. They’re about to be tested, though, as January looks to be a defining month for the season. Two games against co-leader of the Southeast Tampa Bay, tough games in Philly and Atlanta, and home matchups against the Rangers and Senators, with just a few matches against teams they should beat.

Looking back on the Winter Classic, we saw a Caps team that continued their first period struggles, their second period explosion, and a third period full of fight. That’s been this Capitals team all season long, and until they can figure out their first period struggles, I think they’re not going to be strong contender for Lord Stanley’s Cup. There’s much to work on this season, and still a good amount of time to see it happen. Continue reading

Sports Fix

Sports Fix: Bye Week Edition

Slapshot

Capitals
Record: 10-4
Last Two Weeks:
Place: 5-1 First in the Southeast, 20 points

A four-game winning streak. A trio of capable young goalies. Undefeated in Overtime. That’s not a bad first month of the season for the Capitals. Perfect? No, they’ve made some mistakes, but they’ve had a pretty good start, and that’s all that Coach Bruce Boudreau needs right now to keep things moving.

The Caps are still trying to find their offensive groove, and some of the lines are working better than others. They’ll be testing things out against the NY Rangers on Tuesday night at the Garden, then back to DC for Thursday night’s match with Tampa Bay. They bounce around a bit for the next two weeks, with games here and away against Buffalo and Atlanta. Continue reading

Mythbusting DC, The Features

DC Mythbusting: The Sports Curse

Photo courtesy of
‘Strasburg – Coming Spring 2012′
courtesy of ‘afagen’

We all know about the Sports Illustrated cover curse.  And we know the story of the Madden NFL cover curse.  But is the worst curse of all just being part of the Washington sports scene?  That’s what ESPN claims, saying, “A star-destroying black hole of unimaginable proportions, the Washington curse goes beyond sports, touching everything from reality TV (worst seasons ever for “The Real World,” “Top Chef” and “The Real Housewives”) to politics (the reputation of any popular pol who stays in town long enough).”  Ouch.  But does the DC area really have a sports curse?

Continue reading

Sports Fix, The Features

Week 2 Recap: Skins vs. Texans

Photo courtesy of
‘Our seats in the upper deck’
courtesy of ‘BrianMKA’

One thing is certain about the Redskins: they are rarely boring to watch. After giving up a 17-point lead in the second half and nearly 500 yards passing, the Skins fell to the Texans 30-27 in overtime. Both teams played very well for the most part but a few mistakes cost the Skins a victory. The blocked field goal in the 4th quarter, the holding penalty on Stephon Heyer after a critical 23-yard catch by Santana Moss, and the offsides call on Chris Horton were among the biggest blunders. Two key injuries also affected the game as Laron Landry and Trent Williams tweaked their left wrist and knee respectively. The overtime itself was torture for Skins fans as the team went for a 52-yard field goal, which Graham Gano made, but Texans’ coach Gary Kubiak called a timeout just before the snap. Gano’s second attempt was way off the mark. When the Texans got possession of the ball, they moved it to the 18-yard line and Neil Rackers hit a 35-yard field goal giving Houston a victory after 71 ½ minutes of football. There is no question that the Skins gave a full effort in this game. It’s just a matter of holding a lead and finishing plays late in the game that they need to improve upon.

Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Clinton Portis on Women Sports Writers

Photo courtesy of
‘Clinton Portis’
courtesy of ‘Keith Allison’

What started out as a run-of-the-mill Tuesday conversation with Redskins running back Clinton Portis on D.C. sports radio’s 106.7 The Fan has now been immortalized by Dan Steinberg via the Sports Bog as another example of male chauvinism in D.C. sports.

During The Mike Wise show at 10:30 this morning, Portis offered his opinion regarding the buzz currently circulating female reporter Ines Sainz. Sainz has made headlines in recent days due to the NFL investigating a complaint filed by the Association of Women in Sports Media on behalf of Sainz who claims that members of the New York Jets harassed her on the field and in the locker room when she visited their practice facility to do a story on their quarterback Mark Sanchez.

The matter is still under review according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen who received word from a league spokesman, but in the meantime Mr. Portis offered his two cents: Continue reading

Sports Fix

Sports Fix

Photo courtesy of
‘Zim be nimble, Zim be quick’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99′

Nationals
Record: 56-75 (Last in the NL East)
Last Two Weeks: 5-8

The impossible-to-miss, off-field story involves none other than his Royal Strasburg. Late last week, the team announced that a tear in Strasburg’s pitching elbow will require reconstructive surgery of the Tommy John type. The Nats enter the last month of the season looking towards next year, but it is also safe to say that many already think even next season could be a lost cause. Still, in the “looking forward” department, there is still at least one bright spot: Bryce Harper was on the scene at Nationals Park, putting on a Nats jersey and launching bombs during batting practice.

On the field, things have been up and down. Last week, the Nationals got swept at home by the lowly Cubs, but managed to take three out of four from a Cardinals squad that is very much in contention in the Central to conclude the homestand. For a team that’s been fairly lifeless in the past month, maybe the Strasburg news is a reminder that no one man makes a club. In the next two weeks, the Nats will play the majority of their games against NL East rivals, save one trip to Pittsburgh next weekend.

Continue reading

Adventures, Entertainment, Fun & Games, Life in the Capital, News, People, The Daily Feed, The District

Sign Her Up! Redskins Latest Recruit

Photo courtesy of
‘New Washington NFL Uniform’
courtesy of ‘Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com’

Today Albert Haynesworth for the third day in a row chose not to take the Redskins conditioning test, which consists of two timed 25 yard shuttle runs with a 3 1/2 minute rest in between each set. So local Fox 5 reporter, Lindsay Murphy, took it for him and came pretty darn close to passing.

Given how useless, lazy and overpaid Haynesworth has been during his time at the Redskins, I say “Sign Her Up!”

Adventures, Business and Money, Food and Drink, Life in the Capital, News, People, The Daily Feed

DC To Get A Waffle House, Courtesy of Fred Smoot?

Photo courtesy of
‘The Old Waffle Shop’

courtesy of ‘Penelope700′

Former Redskins cornerback, Fred Smoot, loves DC. Despite his current free agent status, the footballer hearts our city and has developed a deep connection to the fans and DCers, he’s met during his tenure on the Deadskins’ roster.

Although his player status for the 2010 season is still very much up in the air, Smoot told Kevin and Rock on 106.7′s The Fan that no matter what he plans to keep his connections to the area by opening up D.C.’s first ever Waffle House. During the weekly radio show, Smoot stated, “I’m actually in the process of starting a couple businesses up here. I’m bringing Waffle House to D.C. — I think they’ve been yearning for it for a long time. My first location is right off 14th and U.”

Of course, Smoot’s plan will not only bring the deliciousness of tasty waffles to the area and meet the heavy demand for the breakfast item, but will also revive the long lived syrup vs. gravy debate that this September saw syrup take the prize. Perhaps it’s time for a rematch?

The Daily Feed

Save the Dates: Redskins 2010 Schedule Released

Photo courtesy of
‘FedEx Field after a Victory’
courtesy of ‘Tony DeFilippo’

Late yesterday, the NFL announced its 2010 schedules, so the road for the Redemption Redskins to make it back to the playoffs under new head coach Mike Shanahan is now set. The ‘skins will have several nationally featured games, including the first Sunday game of the season when they host the Cowboys on September 12; FedEx Field will be the spotlight for a primetime game against Super Bowl XLIV’s runner-up Indianapolis on Sunday, October 11th. Also, the Redskins will host Monday Night Football when new quarterback Donovan McNabb’s former team, the Philadelphia Eagles, come into town on November 15. The full schedule is below with times and broadcasting networks.

Washington Redskins 2010 Schedule

9/12 vs Dallas, 8:20 PM ET, NBC
9/19 vs Houston, 4:15 PM ET, CBS
9/26 @ St. Louis 4:05 PM ET, FOX
10/3 @ Philadelphia, 4:15 PM ET, FOX
10/10 vs Green Bay, 1:00 PM ET, FOX
10/17 vs Indianapolis, 8:20 PM ET, NBC
10/24 @ Chicago, 1:00 PM ET, FOX
10/31 @ Detroit 1:00 PM ET, FOX
11/15 (Monday) vs Eagles, 8:30 PM ET, ESPN
11/21 @ Tennessee, 1:00 PM ET, FOX
11/28 vs Minnesota, 1:00 PM ET, FOX
12/5 @ New York Giants, 1:00 PM ET, FOX
12/12 vs Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM ET, FOX
12/19 @ Dallas, 1:00 PM ET, FOX
12/26 @ Jacksonville, 1:00 PM ET, FOX
1/2 vs New York Giants, 1:00 PM ET, FOX

The Daily Feed

BREAKING: Rex Grossman Signs with ‘Skins

Photo courtesy of
‘Rex Grossman at Bourobonnais’
courtesy of ‘back_garage’

Jason Reid just filed a report that Mike Shanahan has made another addition to his off-season collection of free agents. Rex Grossman, who quarterbacked the Chicago Bears to Super Bowl XLI before losing to Indianapolis in the big game during the 2006 season, has signed on with the ‘skins. Last season, Rex got in one game as the back-up to Matt Schaub in Houston, in which he threw nine passes: three caught by Texans, one caught by the defense. Washington’s offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, had been the OC in Houston at the time.

Go ahead and forget about picking up that Jimmy Clausen jersey, while many more developments are to come, this most likely means the hometown team will not be picking up a QB with their top ten pick in next month’s draft.

Sports Fix, The Features

Sports Fix: Gearing Up

Photo courtesy of
‘Center Ice’
courtesy of ‘Ghost_Bear’

With the 2010 Vancouver Olympics kicking off Friday night and continuing throughout the weekend, it’s kind of hard to recall the significant happenings that have occurred over the last two weeks in DC sports.

Capitals
Record: 41-13
Last Two Weeks: 4-3
Place:1st in the Eastern Conference

The Caps continued their winning streak with spectacular W’s against both the Penguins and the Rangers, but were stopped at 14 wins on February 10th by the Montreal Canadians in a 5-6 squeaker in OT.

Since their loss to the Canadians, the Caps have lost their last 3 games heading into the two week break for the Olympic games. They still lead the Eastern Conference with 90 points, and their next game will be away versus the Sabres on March 3.

Despite this minor downturn, Mr. Ovechkin is still the NHL’s leading offensive player in both goals (42) and overall points (89). And Alexandar Semin is on a super hot streak, sniping goals left and right, and racking up 5 goals and 4 assists in the last 4 games. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Redskins London Fletcher Headed To The Pro Bowl

Photo courtesy of
‘Suisham’s FG’
courtesy of ‘brianmka’

New Orleans might be stoked that their Saints are headed to the Super Bowl versus Peyton Manning and the Colts in a couple weeks, but there’s one person who might be even more excited than every person living on the bayou — London Fletcher.

Thanks to the Saints win last night, the Redskins linebacker — who is also up for this year’s Walter Peyton Man of the Year award — will replace the Saints Jonathan Vilma at next weekend’s Pro Bowl.

This will be Fletcher’s first Pro Bowl in his 12-year career. He will be joined by teammate and fellow linebacker Brian Orakpo.

Essential DC, Fun & Games, People, The Daily Feed

Zorn Gets the Axe

Photo courtesy of
‘_MG_0229′
courtesy of ‘dbking’

The inevitable has finally happened and the Zorn era is no more. After a 4-12 season and an overall 12-20 record, the Redskins leadership decided that it was time to fire head coach Jim Zorn.  This move, of course, has been speculated for months, particularly after Redskin owner Dan Snyder stripped Zorn of his play calling responsibilities earlier in the season. It really comes as no surprise to most football fans.  Still, I ask myself: was the Redskins abysmal 2009 performance a symptom of bad coaching, or of something deeper?  Many Washingtonians feel that Dan Snyder’s meddling in the day to day affairs of his team is far more to blame than Jim Zorn’s apparent lack of ability.  So, Skins fans, what’s your analysis?  Was this a good move, bad move, or will it even matter?  Supposedly Snyder is courting Mike Shanahan as Zorn’s replacement.  Any thoughts on that?