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
Sports Forum Podcast
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Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
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Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
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Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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