British hockey team to drop 'Redskins' nickname

A British hockey team is dropping its ''Redskins'' nickname.

Streatham Redskins, which plays in the country's third tier, will be rebranded for next season after landing in the spotlight following calls for the Washington Redskins to do away with their nickname.

''The high profile of the Washington Redskins has sparked a debate and news coverage,'' Streatham head coach Warren Rost told The Associated Press on Friday. ''If it wasn't a high-profile matter, we might not have put two-and-two together and realized there were racial connotations to the name.

''To have a name that has a racial undertones, it's crazy we've ended up in that situation,'' Rost said. ''It's everything we don't stand for.''

Rost said the south London team will change its name at the end of this season, adding that Streatham has been planning for the past two years to move away from the nickname. But the timetable was moved forward after two British lawmakers wrote to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in February, complaining about Washington's ''Redskins'' nickname ahead of the team's visit to London next season.

Ruth Smeeth and Ian Austin, who are members of the Labour Party in Britain, said in the letter that the NFL ''should consider changing the name of the Washington franchise or, at a minimum, send a different team to our country to represent the sport, one that does not promote a racial slur.''

Rost said some Native Americans had emailed the politicians ''to say, `Hang on a second, what about the Streatham Redskins?'''

''The politicians' complaints threw a spotlight on us,'' Rost said in a telephone interview. ''We were hoping to fly under the radar until the summer. With the MPs having their say and with the Native Americans coming back with an email, our hand was forced.''

Rost said he'd ''be surprised if we'd had five people bring up'' the perceived connotations of the Redskins nickname but that ''the longer you leave it, the worse the position becomes.''

''The feedback (to the announcement) has been 60 percent positive, 30 percent an intellectual understanding and 10 percent have gone, `No, it's PC gone mad. We're too worried in this world about offending people. We're not going to watch you anymore,''' Rost said.

Streatham picked the Redskins name in the 1970s because it invoked a fierce warrior spirit, the club said. Before that, the team that started in 1932 and claims to be the oldest hockey club in England was just known as Streatham.

''It was as scientific as plucking a name out of the sky,'' Rost said. ''We didn't really understand the history of it.

''Streatham is a real multi-racial area and we've been at the forefront of multi-racial ice hockey in this country. That's why this is a real shame.''

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