For years, the debate was contentious over team names, their logos and their underlying meaning.
Smack dab in the middle of the debate was the Washington Football Team. Since 1933, Washington used the controversial name and logo ‘Redskins’. Finally, in 2020, the team dropped its name and logo due to decades of protest, the current racial climate and racial awareness.
In light of this ‘GOT WOKE’ moment, I wanted to relay a profound interaction between my 10-year-old son and me…
I am a diehard, superstitious and potentially crazy Philadelphia Eagles fan, I wear the same clothes for each game, set my vintage Eagles helmet in a place of prominence prior to the game, and don my jersey right before kickoff. Missing just one of these critical steps could throw off the outcome of the game. If the Eagles win, I hang my jersey on a green hanger and back in the closet it goes. If the Eagles lose, I throw my jersey in the laundry to wash off the bad luck. (Please don’t judge me.)
Just last year my son started watching games with me, adopting some of my essential game-altering rituals.
Unfortunately, the 2020 NFL season started uneventfully with a 27-17 loss to Washington, so off with our jerseys and into the washing machine they went.
As we were preparing for our Week 2 game against the Los Angeles Rams, my son summoned me in a loud tone to the top of our stairs.
In his hand, he was holding a balled-up hoodie that I recognized as a Washington sweatshirt that was given to him as a hand-me-down.
What followed was a profound and serious conversation I want to share:
JOEY: We need to get rid of this.
ME: Why? It’s in good condition.
JOEY: No, we need to get rid of it.
ME: But it is a warm, cozy sweatshirt and you don’t have many hoodies.
JOEY: (As he straightens the shirt out, he points to the name and logo… Redskins) We need to get rid of it.
ME: Oh, I understand. We can put the shirt in the township’s clothing donation bin.
JOEY: No, we need to throw it out!
He understood the label “Redskin” was offensive and hurtful. He didn’t feel comfortable with the racial slur. It just didn’t feel right to him.
If a 10-year-old can get it, why is it so difficult for others to get it?