Sunday, May 29, 2016

Poll Position: Too Good to be True?

Recently there was a poll taken regarding the name of the Washington, DC football team. It pretty much matched a similar poll conducted in 2004 which showed a large number (9 out of 10) of American Indians support the mascot and don't find it offensive. The poll was conducted by the Washington Post (the hometown paper of the Washington football team. They polled 504 American Indians from all over the country.

The full story as reported in The Washington Post, the International Business Times, and Market Watch is linked below.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/new-poll-finds-9-in-10-native-americans-arent-offended-by-redskins-name/2016/05/18/3ea11cfa-161a-11e6-924d-838753295f9a_story.html
http://www.ibtimes.com/redskins-name-change-calls-new-nfl-nickname-remain-despite-poll-results-2372052
http://www.marketwatch.com/(S(rnrsydaynixa5x55oiibxm45))/story/redskins-poll-is-really-about-a-new-nfl-stadium-2016-05-20

There are a few things I noticed about this poll:
  1. The Washington Post claims responsibility for the poll, however, it isn't clear if the franchise had a hand in it also.
  2. 504 people doesn't necessary make a good survey size, especially since the registered Indian population is closer to 3 million (Yes, we make them register). Also, The Post claims the 504 people were polled all over the country. But what is the demographic background of the survey size? How many are urban Indians? How many live on reservations? How many from the Oneida Nation that strongly oppose the name? Age demographics? Education level? Are they football fans? What tribes are they from? Are they 100% card carrying Indians, or people who may have one half-Cherokee great grandfather? These sorts of things make a difference.
  3. I find it very interesting that this poll seems to exonerate Dan Snyder from looking like a heartless racist opportunist.
It is easy to read a headline and take it at face value. People do this all the time, and never bother to read between the lines, or realize what the story leaves out, possibly on purpose. According to this poll, the Washington football team has been vindicated. They have proof again that they aren't in fact racist, despite all of the other facts to the contrary. They polled a few actual Indians and those they polled almost unanimously said Redskins is not a racist term. Awesome! Story over, bring on the new stadiums and jerseys and put away those protest signs and radio ads!

Except, the fact remains the team is named after a skin color. It is a team owned and run by non-Indians who make a lot of money off an image of a person that does not represent them in any way. There is no poll that will change that, no matter how high the percentage.

not actually what Dan Snyder looks like...

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