During Game 3 of the NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat, sports fans were witness to another heated rivalry in the sporting world. The Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, a Native American tribe near San Francisco, paid to air a 60-second ad opposing the Washington Redskins’ team name.
“It’s just a time to get people thinking about putting an end to outward hatred and using sports as a tool to focus on racism,” said Marshall McKay, chairman of the tribal council, in an accompanying video.
The ad is an edited version of a two-minute video that was put online by the National Congress of American Indians in January. That video has already achieved 2 million views.
During Sunday’s Game 2 of the NBA Finals, which drew more than 15 million viewers, the ad ran during the halftime. On Tuesday night, the ad was broadcast in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Washington.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder has repeatedly indicated he has no intention of changing his team’s name. In May 2013, 50 U.S. Senators petitioned the NFL to change the name, but Snyder is adamant. “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps,” Snyder told USA Today that same month.
He and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell have consistently said they don’t believe the name is offensive. Snyder has described it as a “badge of honor.”
In March, Snyder announced the formation of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation, an advocacy organization to address matters more important to the Native American community than the name of his team. “They have genuine issues they truly are worried about, and our team’s name is not one of them,” he wrote in a letter to his team’s fans.