(Photo: Charles Dharapak, AP)
President Obama is wading into issues of culture and professional football, saying the Washington Redskins football team should consider a new name.
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"If I were the owner of the team and I knew that the name of my team - even if they've had a storied history - was offending a sizable group of people, I'd think about changing it," Obama told the Associated Press during an interview.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder has refused requests from Native Americans and others to change the name, which originated during the 1930s when the franchise was located in Boston. The team moved to Washington for the 1937 season.
"All these mascots and team names related to Native Americans, Native Americans feel pretty strongly about it," Obama told the Associated Press. "And I don't know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real, legitimate concerns that people have about these things."
The AP conducted the interview Friday, and published it on Saturday.
Obama said he doesn't think Washington Redskins fans are purposefully trying to offend Native Americans: "I don't want to detract from the wonderful Redskins fans that are here. They love their team and rightly so."
A Chicago Bears fan, Obama said he doesn't have a direct stake in the Redskins name flap because he is not a team owner - though he hinted that may be something he is interested in when he retires in 2017.
"Maybe after I leave the presidency," Obama said. "I think it would be a lot of fun."
Obama added: "I'd probably look at a basketball team before I looked at a football team. I know more about basketball than I do about football."
From the Associated Press:
"Other professional sports teams have Indian nicknames, including football's Kansas City Chiefs and baseball's Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians.
"Numerous colleges and universities have changed names that reference Native Americans. St. John's changed its mascot from the Redmen to the Red Storm, Marquette is now the Golden Eagles instead of the Warriors and Stanford switched from the Indians to the Cardinals.
"The Redskins' nickname has attracted a fresh round of controversy in recent months, with local leaders in Washington calling for a name change and some media outlets refraining from using the name. The name is the subject of a long-running legal challenge from a group of American Indians seeking to block the team from having federal trademark protection.
"Congressional lawmakers have introduced a bill seeking the same goal, though it appears unlikely to pass."