Peter King of Sports Illustrated confirmed today on his website, TheMMQB.com,that he will no longer use the term “Redskins” when he is writing about Washington’s NFL team.
King’s decision sounds more like a personal choice as opposed to a political stance. Here is an excerpt from his explanation:
“I’ve decided to stop using the Washington team nickname. It’s a name you won’t see me use anymore. The simple reason is that for the last two or three years, I’ve been uneasy when I sat down to write about the team and had to use the nickname. In some stories I’ve tried to use it sparingly. But this year, I decided to stop entirely because it offends too many people, and I don’t want to add to the offensiveness. Some people, and some Native American organisations — such as the highly respected American Indian Movement — think the nickname is a slur. Obviously, the team feels it isn’t a slur, and there are several prominent Native American leaders who agree. But I can do my job without using it, and I will. My 2,400-word story on Washington offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and his unique approach to the read-option Thursday proved you can write about the team (insightfully, I hope) and not make a big deal about not using the nickname.”
Even if King is not trying to influence public opinion, he is arguably the most influential writer covering the NFL and his stance will create waves both inside the league and outside the white lines.
Earlier this year, team owner Daniel Snyder took a defiant stand against the movement to change the team’s name, saying “we’ll never chance the name…It’s that simple. NEVER. You can use all caps.”
King went on to explain that other writers at TheMMQB.com are free to use the name if they choose. However, he made it clear that he is not in favour of the name, writing “Did I want to be part of a culture that uses a term that many in society view as a racial epithet? The answer kept coming back no.”
There has been a growing movement in recent years to have the team name changed. However, short of legal action, that was not going to happen unless prominent voices in and around the league took a stance. King is just the type of voice that could lead to change.
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