(Reuters) – Most Washington-area residents said the NFL’s Washington Redskins should keep its name, but the majority also said they believe the team will have to change its name, a poll released on Tuesday showed.
The survey for WTOP radio was carried out shortly after a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office tribunal canceled six Redskins trademarks earlier this month, saying they disparaged Native Americans.
Sixty-one percent of the 604 adults reached by telephone said they supported keeping the Redskins name, the poll said.
Sixty-seven percent of those polled in Virginia and 60 percent in Maryland said they supported the name. But in the District of Columbia, 57 percent said the name should be changed.
Fifty-five percent of those surveyed said they believed the team would have to change its name eventually, according to the survey, taken between June 20 and June 26.
A name change was opposed by 81 percent of those who identify themselves as “strong Redskins fans.” Among casual fans, 56 percent were against a change.
Only 21 percent of those surveyed backed a boycott of Redskins sponsors, such as FedEx Corp, to push for a new name. FedEx has naming rights to the Redskins’ stadium in Landover, Maryland.
The National Football League franchise has faced decades of criticism over its name, which dates from the 1930s. The Redskins are appealing the patent tribunal’s ruling and retain trademark protection until the process is concluded.
The poll, carried out by marketing firm Heart + Mind Strategies, had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Susan Heavey)