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Offensive Team Names Are On Notice — For Real, This Time
FiveThirtyEight
 

We start with the announcement, made on Friday, that Washington is going to explore changing its team name to something that hopefully isn’t a racial slur against Native Americans. We all agree that now there’s enough social and economic pressure on majority owner Dan Snyder that a name change will happen, likely before the 2020 NFL season gets started. But with the most egregious example of appropriating indigenous names and symbols out of the way, it remains to be seen what will become of teams like the Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, Chicago Blackhawks and even the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. We unpack a little bit of how we came to have so many Native American team names — the majority sprang up in the early 20th century after the U.S. government had begun a draconian assimilation program against native peoples, effectively making them, in the minds of white Americans, mythic and abstract characters — and some of the nuance into how Native Americans themselves view the problem. The name change will be a good thing, and long overdue, when it happens. But there are many other, more pressing, tangible problems that deserve our attention far more than this issue.

Next, we take a look at what’s changed in our forecast as NBA teams gear up for the Orlando bubble. It turns out? Not too much. The biggest beneficiary of the three-month layoff, we think, is the Philadelphia 76ers, who not only will have a healthy Ben Simmons but may have had the time to work out how to play at their highest potential. The biggest losers are the New Orleans Pelicans: Even though Zion has been working out and now seems, impossibly, more fit, the Pels do not have nearly as much time, nor as easy a schedule, to catch the Memphis Grizzlies for that final playoff spot in the West. While we don’t know how the time away will affect players’ fitness, which could make a huge difference to everyone from the Bucks to the Raptors, our RAPTOR hasn’t really changed who it thinks will walk away with the title. The Lakers and the Clippers are still clear favorites over the rest of the field, so it seems more than likely the championship trophy is headed to Los Angeles.

Finally, Neil breaks down the most imitated batting stances of all time, based on the likes and responses to this tweet from MLB Vault. We learn a lot: that fans can’t get enough of Gary Sheffield and Ken Griffey Jr., and that Neil couldn’t get enough of Derek Jeter — at least as far as his stance was concerned.

What we’re looking at this week:

Sarah Shachat is Hot Takedown’s producer.

Sara Ziegler is the sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Neil Paine is a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight.

Geoff Foster is the former sports editor of FiveThirtyEight.

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