WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Recently, Robert Pollin, a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and son of longtime Wizards/Bullets owner Abe Pollin, wrote in the Washington Post about his vehement opposition to reverting the basketball team’s name back to the Bullets.
In it, he wrote:
Why would Ted and his co-owners want to do anything whatsoever that could possibly encourage gun violence in our society — making guns and bullets cool and acceptable? Do we really need more Sandy Hooks? I would much rather see Ted and company stay laser-focused on making the Wizards great. They are definitely on the right track.
Let’s not get distracted by things that won’t make one whit of difference in terms of making the Wizards a winner, but will make a big difference in terms of the team making a positive contribution to the community and broader society.
Even more recently, he penned an opinion piece in the Post, relying heavily upon his history with the Bullets as the team transitioned into its new name, to make the case it really wouldn’t be so bad if Daniel Snyder decided to change the Redskins name. More to the point, he suggested such a decision would be regarded as one of “courage,” and Snyder would “earn the respect of his community.”
To date, Snyder appears out of touch. But this gives him a great opportunity to surprise us and demonstrate his true grit. He can reiterate his own position: that he had been resisting the name change out of respect for generations of Redskins fans and his own love of the team’s traditions. But he then simply has to admit that he has been wrong. He needs to recognize that the most ethical thing he can do is to stop upholding a name that Native Americans consider a racist slur. Through making such a courageous decision, Snyder would earn the respect of his community and create a massive new wave of support for his football team.
Pollin expanded on that first bit, in an interview Tuesday with 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier, when the latter inquired about Pollin’s feelings if he himself, representing Wizards fans, wanted the Bullets name restored.
“I disagree with you very strongly,” Pollin responded. “For the reasons we just discussed, and on top of that, I think it would be dishonoring my father’s decision. And my father made, I think, a courageous decision. He was criticized at the time, he was ridiculed; in fact, he still is. If you read the comments on the Washington Post website, in response to my article, there’s like 850 comments and 773 are negative, a lot of them making fun of my father, saying it was stupid, ‘Go back.’ He made an ethical decision and I respect it hugely, and it was the right decision and I don’t think we should go back.”
Now, more on Snyder, and why Pollin feels the Redskins name should be changed.
“I think the main thing at this point is, I know there are people who say, ‘Oh, a lot of Native Americans don’t really care, we are committed to the team,’ but at a certain point, you have to focus on the single most important thing, which is that there are a lot of Native Americans, and others, who find the term offensive, who regard it as a racial slur,” Pollin said.
“And I know Dan Snyder has taken the other position, I know other people, maybe you two, take the other position, but if we are offending a very important group in society, that has to, in my view, has to be the ultimate decider,” he said. “And everyone will be fine with a new name, and that’s what I would tell Dan Snyder.
“And I understand once you’ve made another decision, it’s hard to back away. And that’s why I said in my article, it would be great if Dan could show some real courage, some real character, some true grit, show he’s a true mensch, and just say, ‘You know what? I changed my mind.’ And then that would be that, and guess what? More people would love the team, more people would respect Dan Snyder for him doing that, and changing his mind, and showing the courage to change his mind.”
If you’re one of the few to still maintain an open mind on name change-related discussions, you may enjoy the full interview below.
(You can read more on Abe Pollin’s reasoning for changing the Bullets name here.)