By Ken Reed

Activists and lawyers have been working for 20 years to get the Washington Redskins to drop their offensive nickname and also to get media outlets to stop using the moniker. The efforts have been largely unsuccessful. The Washington Post, which has supported their position, says the case has become “largely symbolic.”

The Washington D.C. City Council has declared the name “Redskins” to be “offensive and hurtful to many Native Americans” and “to all people who reject racial stereotypes and bigotry as socially and morally unacceptable.”

Still, the ugly nickname remains part of the Washington franchise in the National Football League, and radio and television stations continue to reference it.

Public interest law professor John Banzhaf believes he has a better idea: challenging the renewal of TV and radio stations’ licenses before the FCC on the grounds of offensive broadcasting for using the nickname “Redskins.” He says TV and radio stations have a legal obligation to broadcast in the “public interest, convenience, and necessity,” and especially to avoid “offensive” broadcasting, which, in this case, he sees as unnecessary use of the word “redskin” in sports reporting. He says stations could easily just report that “Washington beat Dallas,” as an example, without using the nickname. Banzhaf’s FCC license challenge strategy has been successful in the past with similar issues.

Over the last couple decades, numerous high school, college and pro teams have changed nicknames and/or mascots that are racist and offensive to Native Americans. Unfortunately, our nation’s capitol remains home to a franchise with perhaps the most offensive nickname of all.

Here’s hoping Banzhaf’s new tactic gains traction.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


Comments are closed.

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.