The Washington NFL franchise has decided to scrap the name "Redskins" and the team logo and mascot, freeing commentators and analysts and journalists to refer to the team without having to make a decision about whether they were perpetuating a demeaning stereotype in the process.
That came in an announcement July 13, 10 days after it announced it was reviewing the name. It has been under heavy pressure to drop the name in the midst of a national reckoning over racism and discrimination.
"Today, we are announcing we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review," the team said. No word on what the new name will be (Monuments, Warriors?). "Dan Snyder [the team's owner] and Coach [Ron] Rivera are working closely to develop a new name and design approach that will enhance the standing of our proud, tradition rich franchise and inspire our sponsors, fans and community for the next 100 years," the team said.
Some announcers have chosen not to use it on air in solidarity with those who say it is a racist term that has no business being used.
Broadcasters in the U.S. have pretty much left whether to use the team name up to their analysts and sports anchors, though the hometown newspaper, the Washington Post, decided not to use the name on its editorial page, which has urged a name change, while continuing to use it on the news pages.
Back in 2014, the FCC's Media Bureau rejected a petition to deny the renewal of Snyder's Washington radio station, WWXX-FM, over its use of the term "Redskins" on-air to refer to the team. Challenges to several TV station licenses were also lodged on the grounds the term was profane, but the FCC did not see it that way.
The name change is another byproduct of the national reckoning on racism prompted by the death of George Floyd.
The team's not-so-proud history includes being the last team in the league to integrate. The statue of its former owner George Preston Marshall, who resisted integration until the early 1960s, was removed from in front of the team's former home, RFK Stadium in Washington, in the wake of the Floyd protests.
"Today is a day for all Native people to celebrate," said the National Congress of American Indians. "We thank the generations of tribal nations, leaders, and activists who worked for decades to make this day possible. We commend the Washington NFL team for eliminating a brand that disrespected, demeaned, and stereotyped all Native people, and we call on all other sports teams and corporate brands to retire all caricatures of Native people that they use as their mascots. We are not mascots -- we are Native people, citizens of more than 500 tribal nations who have stood strong for millennia and overcome countless challenges to reach this pivotal moment in time when we can help transform America into the just, equitable, and compassionate country our children deserve."
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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