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ANOTHER VIEW: Lessons from the Washington NFL name change

ANOTHER VIEW: Lessons from the Washington NFL name change

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Did a left-wing mob pushing “political correctness” just force Washington’s National Football League team into changing the name it had used since 1933?

Let’s play sportscaster and take a look at the instant replay to break down what happened.

There’s the Washington football franchise — let picture the team as the quarterback, standing its ground in the pocket. And coming in to sack the “Redskins” name are . . .

FedEx — which in early July sent the team a letter saying if the name wasn’t changed, then FedEx would pull its name from the stadium where Washington plays.

And over here are three more Fortune 500 companies rushing in, saying they would no longer sell the team’s merchandise — Nike, Target and Walmart. And, wait, there’s Dick’s Sporting Goods doing the same thing.

And, look, here’s another Fortune 500 company blitzing in from another direction, saying it would remove all merchandise with the offensive name and logo from its website — Amazon.

And over there are Pepsi and the Bank of America — yes, two more Fortune 500 companies, and, like FedEx, Fortune 500 companies that are team sponsors — asking for a name change.

The conclusion seems easy: Washington wasn’t forced to change its name by the people who have been protesting the name for years now. It was forced to change by some of America’s corporate titans, which is another way of saying it wasn’t forced to change by left-wing political correctness but by something usually championed by conservatives — the free market.

This is one of the oldest stories around: Money talks.

If FedEx had carried through its threat to pull its name from the stadium, that would have cost the franchise $45 million in naming-rights revenue.

Adweek reports that “87 investment firms and shareholders worth a collective $620 billion asked Nike, FedEx and PepsiCo to terminate their business relationships with the NFL’s Washington Redskins unless the team agrees to change its controversial name.”

What’s the lesson here? It seems pretty clear: The world is changing. And it changed a little bit more —maybe a lot more — after a Black man died under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, but on video shared worldwide, in late May. .

You either have to believe that all these corporate chieftains are sniveling cowards who can’t take a little heat — or perhaps they understand a changing America better than many of our politicians. Here’s why the answer is the latter: Politicians — even the ones who style themselves as unifiers — know they really only need a certain slice of the electorate to win. Companies, though, want to sell their products and services to as many people as possible — which means they must stay attuned to shifts in the marketplace. And right now the nation behind that marketplace is changing. Smart companies know this, and are adapting — even if some of our politicians aren’t.

In the case of Washington’s football team, all the companies involved felt that public opinion had shifted enough that there was some monetary risk to being associated with the a team name that many consider a slur.

Even as it became clear that the Washington team was going to make a change, President Trump tweeted a defense of the name. Trump, though, doesn’t need to sell himself to all Americans.

He won in 2016 with just 46.1% of the vote; to win in 2020, he once again needs only a plurality in the right configuration of states, not an absolute majority. What Trump derided as “political correctness” is, in this case, more like “market correctness.”

To understand how America is changing —demographically, culturally — perhaps politicians aren’t who we should be looking to for guidance.


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