Poll: Most Fans’ Support Would Not Diminish if Redskins Changed Name

Frank Heinz, NBC DFW

Most Washington Redskins fans' support of the team would not be diminished if the team changed its name, a new poll suggests.

SurveyUSA interviewed 500 adults in the D.C.-area and found that 73 percent of those surveyed say their support for the team would not waver, while 25 percent said it would. Among Redskins fans, 69 percent said their support would not waver.

Seventy-seven percent of area residents also believed team owner Dan Snyder should meet face-to-face with those who say they are offended by the name. If such a meeting occurred, 66 percent said Snyder should not use the term "Redskins" at the meeting.

The Oneida Indian Nation conducted the public opinion poll as a part of its "Change the Mascot" campaign.

"...[O]ur hope is that Mr. Snyder will demonstrate true leadership and change the offensive name, not because of what any public opinion studies show, but because it's the right thing to do," said Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter.

Halbritter suggested the poll shows an opportunity for the team to gain support from its fans.

"This polling information is valuable because it shows that the team has nothing to fear economically by changing its name," he said. "In fact, the data indicates that the team stands to actually gain support from its fans by finally making the right decision and changing the name."

But of the Redskins fans polled, 23 percent said their support would increase while 30 percent said their support would diminish. Of those polled who said they are fans of another team, which amounted to 28 percent of those polled, 15 percent said they would be more of a fan of the team, while 22 percent said they would be less of a fan. Of those polled who said they are fans of no team at all, 18 percent of those polled, 11 percent said they would be more of a fan of the team, while 15 percent said they would be less of a fan.

Of the D.C.-area residents polled, 54 percent consider themselves Redskins fans.

The poll also asked if respondents were more likely to say the team should change its name upon learning "redskin" is listed in the dictionary as an offensive term and considered by many Native Americans to be a slur. Forty-four percent said they would be more likely to support a name change while 18 percent said they would be less likely to support it.

Snyder has said he will never change the name, releasing a letter to season ticket holders last week.

In recent weeks, many people have weighed in on the controversy surrounding the team's name. During Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys, Bob Costas called the nickname "Redskins" "an insult, a slur." President Barack Obama has even said he would think about changing the team's name.

But not everyone agrees.

In a 2004 poll asking Native American people about the subject, 90 percent of respondents did not consider the term "Redskins" offensive, although many question the cultural credentials of the respondents.

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