SBD/July 24, 2014/Media

Redskins' Name Controversy Poses Unique Issue For NFL Reporters, Broadcasters

The Redskins' name controversy is a hot topic for all media members. With several news outlets deciding in the last year not to use the nickname and refer to the team solely as "Washington," SI.com's Richard Deitsch conducted a roundtable on the comfort level reporters have with using the Redskins name on air. ESPN's Josina Anderson said, "I don't believe it should be censored from a journalistic standpoint. Our use of the name in the dissemination of information isn’t a sign of advocacy. Rather, I see it as a continual recording of its existence." Anderson added, "I don't have a personal problem with any reporter who has taken a stance on the issue and who demonstrates their opposition through omission of the name. But when it comes to using the name in the line of work, I choose to stay neutral." ESPN's Adam Schefter said, "Not my job to make a stand on their name. If they're keeping the name, I'll keep using the name. If they're not, I won't. I'll call them whatever the team calls itself." FoxSports.com's Alex Marvez said, "I have no problem using it because I don’t feel there is any racist intent in use of the nickname. But if they became the Redshirts or whatever tomorrow, that’s fine with me, too. I understand why people would be upset about this, but I also don’t think my readers care about my social views on this subject." However, The MMQB's Robert Klemko said, "I don’t use it. I’ve felt that it is offensive for a long time. ... Last February before I joined SI, I wrote a letter to my sports editor at USA Today requesting a policy change on the name" (SI.com, 7/20).

SHOULD CBS TAKE A STANCE?
CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus last week said the net would not dictate to its broadcasters whether to use the Redskins name or not during a telecast, but the N.Y. Daily News’ Mike Lupica said, "The idea that announcers should actually refrain from calling the Redskins ‘the Redskins’ this season -- as if that solves anything -- is as silly as (Redskins Owner Daniel) Snyder is stubborn and pig headed on the issue." Lupica: "We've survived this long with this nickname, and that includes well-intentioned people leading the crusade against it. We’ll survive hearing them called Redskins this season by football announcers" (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN2, 7/20). ESPN’s Mike Greenberg said, "I can't pretend it's not the name of the team. That's really the reason why I think they should change it, because it's the only remaining reason why the word is used. But I can't pretend it isn't. ... If the team is going to be continued to be called that, it strikes me at minimum a complicated exercise not to call the team by its name. That's the problem with the team having the name. If everyone ignored the team's name, the name wouldn't be a problem” (“Mike and Mike,” ESPN Radio, 7/21). However, in DC, Thom Loverro wrote if CBS "believes the name is offensive, don’t use the name." Loverro: "Take a position. Don’t leave it up to your announcers, who will now be on the firing line in the name change debate." People "will be keeping score, and taking notes." Loverro: "Will Phil Simms use the name? If so, does that make him a racist?" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 7/23). In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy called CBS' stance "weak." He asked, "Why should broadcasters be the ones to make a decision on The Team That Must Not Be Named. Networks, both local and national, are going to have to provide some direction" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/20).

WHAT ULTIMATELY COULD BRING CHANGE: Wall Street Journal Sports Editor Geoff Foster said of the Redskins name, "The only thing that’s really going to make them change the name is if serious financial implications come into play. If a company like FedEx, who sponsors the Redskins field, says ‘We're going to revoke that sponsorship until you change your name.’ Or (if) they lose their trademark which is currently in the appeals process. If they lose their merchandise, they start losing money, the league starts losing money. Then they might change the name” (“CBS This Morning,” 7/19).
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