ESPN's Lisa Salters Won't Say "Redskins" This NFL Season, Joining a Growing List
Have you ever been sitting in front of the TV on a Sunday afternoon, watching your favorite football team get knocked around for a few hours, and thought "hey, one of these teams' names is a crudely racial slur!" If you're anything like me, it comes to mind virtually every time you hear a broadcaster speak the name aloud: the Washington Redskins. You can almost feel the sting leaping off the screen, can't you? Well, a prominent sports reporter agrees — ESPN's Lisa Salters won't say "Redskins" this NFL season, the latest in a string of individuals and publications who're pledging to black-out the team's use of the word, according to The Grio.
The news was broken by Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch on Twitter Tuesday, who reported that Salters will simply call the team "Washington" instead. And she's far from alone in taking this route. The folks at Poynter have helpfully catalogued a list of various outlets that have decided that the name is a little beyond the pale for them. And there are even more than just those — here are a handful of headlining organizations and individuals who've said "no thanks" to the name for this upcoming season.
- The Washington Post
- The San Francisco Chronicle
- The Detroit News
- The Kansas City Star
- The Orange County Register
- CBS NFL broadcaster and former quarterback Phil Simms
- NBC NFL analyst and former head coach Tony Dungy
- Sports Illustrated's Peter King
Having two prominent media figures like Simms and Dungy— both of them ex-NFLers, to boot— trying to avoid the name is as good a sign as any just how out-of-fashion it's become. But as far as high-visibility opposition goes, Salters' stand is considerable. She's currently a sideline reporter for ESPN's Monday Night Football broadcasts, the crown jewel of the NFL's weekly schedule.
So, each time highly controversial owner Daniel Snyder's team rolls into a stadium on a Monday night (they have two MNF games this year), everyone watching at home will be reminded of this ongoing controversy — reminded by the name's absence when Salters reports.
It's worth noting that racist appropriation of Native American culture isn't unique to football — baseball has its failings, too. The Atlanta Braves, for example, play faux-war chants while their stadium of predominantly-white fans swing their arms at the elbow in a chopping motion — the "Tomahawk Chop," they call it. Some fans even spring for the foam tomahawks.
And of course, the Cleveland Indians, boasting possibly the most offensive logo of them all — a cartoonish, grinning caricature of a Native American with bright red skin, strongly echoing America's anti-black minstrel shows of generations gone by. They demoted it to their secondary logo this year, in favor of an innocuous capital-C logo, but the so-called "Chief Wahoo" is still there all the same.
As far as Washington's management goes, well, don't expect them to change the name and put this issue to bed anytime soon — Snyder has never really given an inch on the issue. He insists the name is a sign of respect, and says he'll "never" change it.
But Salters' decision, and similar decisions from outlets that'll be covering the team day in and day out, could be an effective path forward. It's awareness-raising at best, and at worst, it's a principled stand from which others can learn.
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