Saturday, October 20, 2012

Washington City Paper Stops Using ‘Redskins,’ Picks A New Team Name

Two weeks ago, the Kansas City Star drew attention when the paper’s public editor explained the paper’s long-standing policy against using “Redskins” when referring to Washington’s National Football League franchise. The name, public editor Derek Donovan wrote, is “an egregiously offensive term.”

Last week, the Washington City Paper, DC’s alt-weekly newspaper, announced that it also would no longer refer to the team as the “Redskins.” And the City Paper, which has a contentious history with the franchise and its owner Daniel Snyder, went a step farther by posting an online poll so readers could choose a name the City Paper would use to identify the team instead:

Washington City Paper is unilaterally renaming the local NFL team to avoid using its racist nickname any longer. Last week, we solicited your suggestions, and this week, you can vote on the new name. Whichever one wins, that’ll be how City Paper refers to the team from now on, in print and online.

The final choices the paper gave readers were all derived from local landmarks or popular references. In the end, the Washington Pigskins (aka “The Hogs,” an homage to the team’s 1980s-era offensive line) won, beating out the Washington Half-Smokes, the Washington Monuments, the Washington Bammas, and my personal favorite, the Washington Washingtons, which I find so ridiculous that applying it to an actual pro football team is a perfect way to highlight the inanity of continuing to use “Redskins.”

Is Dan Snyder going to give in and change the team’s name because the Washington City Paper, a publication he hates, doesn’t like it? Doubtful. But if Snyder, the NFL, and a large swath of the sports media are all fine with using a racial epithet to describe a football team, the City Paper and its readers figure they’ll have some fun over it. That’s a different strategy than the one employed by the Kansas City Star, but it’s one that will bring more attention to the issue in a city that is at least starting to become a little more aware of the problem.

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