Bob Costas halftime essay on Redskins, ethnic nicknames (video)


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Bob Costas gave another halftime op-ed last night during the Dallas Cowboys vs Washington Football Team game. This was similar to the Bob Costas essay on gun control last season in that Bob Costas (rightfully so) mixed politics and sports. The next tangible event will be a meeting between the NFL and the Oneida Indian Nation tentatively set for November 22, but efforts are underway to accelerate that meeting

Bob Costas offered his candid and very respectful view of the the name controversy. Here’s the essay in full text, following the Bob Costas video.

With Washington playing Dallas here tonight, it seems like an appropriate time to acknowledge the ongoing controversy about the name “Redskins.”

During halftime of the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Football Team game, Costas offered his candid view of the the name controversy.
Let’s start here. There is no reason to believe that owner Daniel Snyder, or any official or player from his team, harbors animus toward Native Americans or wishes to disrespect them. This is undoubtedly also true of the vast majority of those who don’t think twice about the longstanding moniker. And in fact, as best can be determined, even a majority of Native Americans say they are not offended.

But, having stipulated that, there’s still a distinction to be made. Objections to names like “Braves,” “Chiefs,” “Warriors,” and the like strike many of us as political correctness run amok. These nicknames honor, rather than demean. They are pretty much the same as “Vikings,” “Patriots,” or even “Cowboys.” And names like “Blackhawks,” “Seminoles,” and “Chippewas,” while potentially more problematic, can still be okay provided the symbols are appropriately respectful – which is where the Cleveland Indians with the combination of their name and “Chief Wahoo” logo have sometimes run into trouble.

A number of teams, mostly in the college ranks, have changed their names in response to objections. The Stanford Cardinal and the Dartmouth Big Green were each once the Indians; the St. John’s Redmen have become the Red Storm, and the Miami of Ohio Redskins – that’s right, Redskins – are now the Red Hawks.

Still, the NFL franchise that represents the nation’s capital has maintained its name. But think for a moment about the term “Redskins,” and how it truly differs from all the others. Ask yourself what the equivalent would be, if directed toward African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, or members of any other ethnic group.

When considered that way, “Redskins” can’t possibly honor a heritage, or noble character trait, nor can it possibly be considered a neutral term. It’s an insult, a slur, no matter how benign the present-day intent. It is fair to say that for a long time now, and certainly in 2013, no offense has been intended. But, if you take a step back, isn’t it clear to see how offense “might” legitimately be taken?

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports, a Fox Sports affiliate. An analyst for 95.7 The Fan and 1620 The Zone, he also writes for Chicago Now. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks) and subscribe to his RSS feed

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