The government shutdown appears to be bringing out a new position for President Barack Obama to opine on, one which has the potential for major repercussions across our economic landscape. Of course, this has to do with Mr. Obama’s recently stated opinion regarding professional sports nicknames.
In an Associated Press interview published Oct. 5, the President stated his position about the National Football League’s Washington Redskins, heretofore referred to (with apologies to Harry Potter fans everywhere) as “You Know Who”:
“If I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team — even if it had a storied history — that was offending a sizeable group of people, I’d think about changing it.”
This strange turn of events is just the latest in the most recent crusade by activists, journalists, and other “ists” to get the “You Know Who’s” to change its name. This week saw several prominent sportswriters promise to refrain from speaking the name, and a Native American tribe’s planned news conference and demonstration at league owners’ meetings this Monday in New York is believed to have led the President to toss his two cents into the field. No word if those two coins landed heads up, tails up, or split (rim shot.)
Now you may be asking yourself “how, in the midst of a government shutdown, a potential U.S. debt default, and numerous government employees furloughed, does this have any possible bearing on my decision on whether to bet on Washington this weekend?” That is a very good question with a very good answer. You see, in order to understand just how critical the name of the “You Know Who’s” are to the nation’s capitol, one must consider the history of other professional franchise names to grace the city.
- Baseball: The Washington Senators had not one, but two incarnations. The first one, which reportedly existed sometime before 1960, bolted for Minneapolis, renaming itself the “Twins.” Bear in mind, this name is a reference to the “Twin Cities” of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and has nothing to do with the fact that baseball considered the rather Solomon tactic of cutting the team in half, and giving Minneapolis the good half while keeping the rather crummy half in Washington. When baseball realized they couldn't write off the split on their tax returns (Form 1040-SCRU-U) they let the Senators remain whole. The problem was simple: the team was so bad, the U.S. Senate refused to be associated with it. Yes, that’s how bad it was (the team, not the Senate – we all know how bad the Senate is! Even the Klingons know how bad the Senate is!) The second incarnation of the Senators decided that hell was more fun to play in, so they moved to Arlington, Texas (average summer temperature on field: 10,000 degrees) and were renamed, in a comical attempt to regain some semblance of honor, the Rangers. That attempt at honor failed when former owner George W. Bush, in one of the more hilariously tragic moments in sports history, ran for President after being snubbed for baseball commissioner (true story!) In an even more hilariously tragic moment in sports history, the current incarnation of Washington’s baseball team, called the “Nationals” out of sheer desire to show some semblance of self-respect, came from Canada and not just Canada....Montreal, a city whose sense of humor is so warped it let its baseball team (Les Expos) play in Olympic Stadium, a facility so cavernous and bland, Tropicana Field looks like the Taj Mahal by comparison.
- Basketball: The owners of the Baltimore Bullets, apparently high on some sort of extremely powerful controlled substance, decide to relocate the team to Washington at some point between 1975 and 1995, but nobody cares because they played in Baltimore and the only team Baltimore ever cared about was the Colts, which moved in the middle of the night on March 29, 1984. In a moment of confusion, they (the Bullets, not the Colts) kept the name of the team the same, not realizing that Washington residents take the Second Amendment quite literally, leading to the city ranking as #1 for gun crimes and murders for the fifteen eons. Following the city enacting laws ranging from waiting periods to sacrificing a live rooster (the chicken lobby was offended by the concept of ritual sacrifice of a perfectly good foodstuff) on the White House lawn in order to get a handgun license, team owners wisely renamed the franchise the Washington Roosters...
- (hurried whisper from non-lawyer legal advisor)
- Correction, the Wizards, which is appropriate considering that nothing short of real magic, such as a bipartisan Act of Congress, will help them win the NBA Championship.
- On a related note, the Baltimore Colts kept their team name, which continues to rankle real Colts fans to this very day. At the least the Ravens had some semblance of decency when they moved.
- Hockey: The Washington Capitals came into the NHL in the mid 1970s along with the Kansas City Scouts (who? yeah, exactly!) and, in an classic display of top-shelf Washington politics, immediately began losing both money and games. This all changed when, in a decision that changed the world of hockey, the team abandoned its original logo in favor of one depicting the U.S. Capitol dome with two crossed hockey sticks. This was an immediate hit with Americans everywhere, but the newfound enthusiasm quickly waned when it became apparent the team would not be signing actual elected representatives to hit the ice. Shortly afterwards, the team reverted to a revamped version of its original logo, with just enough of an improvement that it didn’t look like a government agency designed it. The team is currently located in the Metropolitan Division of the National Hockey League, and unconfirmed reports state it is still in the Washington area, though no hockey fan in their right mind would ever admit it.
- Soccer: This just in – it has been confirmed that there is a Major League Soccer team in Washington. Details of their whereabouts are not clear, but they are believed to be engaged in significant hooliganism near Fedex Field.
- Football: The United States Football League, a legendary league featuring a franchise whose President once slipped out a window to avoid paying player salaries (true story), had a franchise in Washington called (get ready for this) the Federals! This team was so very, very bad that then-President Ronald Reagan reportedly signed an Executive Order threatening a nuclear strike on RFK Stadium in the team didn’t fold immediately. Like any organization in Washington, it took some time for the Executive Order to reach the team owners desk, so it took approximately two years for the franchise to have the decency to go under.
As you can clearly see, the “You Know Who’s” are a critical part of Washington sports history. However, despite winning two Super Bowls, having a marching band capable of playing “Hail to the Chief” and “I Wish I Was In Dixie” in the same number, and the most grassy paved parking lot in all of pro sports (according to unconfirmed reports from a certain unnamed person who called it an "(expletive deleted) piece of (expletive deleted)," its name has been under attack for years. One can only imagine what will happen next, though we can be fairly certain that a wizard seeking immortality will not be involved.
How does this effect our economy, the government shutdown, and the health of America as a whole? Hell if we know - we're still fuming over the Colts!
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