No matter where you stand on “Redskins,” everyone can agree that it is a hot button topic. It is such a hot button topic that the Seattle Times chose to ban the use of the word. Sports editor Dan Shelton wrote the use of the term is no longer accepted in the printed newspaper or the publication’s website.

Noting the decision on the U.S. Patent Office’s ruling that Redskins was offensive to Native Americans, Shelton said, “It’s time to ban the use of “Redskins,” the absurd, offensive and outdated name of the NFL team in Washington, D.C.

“Past time, actually.”

Shelton said the name is offensive and does not honor Native Americans. He said “the term colors an entire race. Many Native Americans consider it an outdated label placed on their people.”

Dating back to the 1990’s, the Times had minimized the use of “Redskins” only referencing it once a story along with keeping it out of the headlines and photo captions. However, Shelton said that decision was progressive for its time, but now, the paper has to go farther and ban the use altogether.

He said that even though one Spokane, WA high school is still using the name for its mascot, the Times will not use it when reporting on the institution.

And in arguing his point, Shelton said banning other mascots with religious or ethnic backgrounds such as “Fighting Irish,” “Vikings” and “Quakers” aren’t the same as they don’t have negative connotations.

In writing a follow-up article, Shelton said he was surprised by the reaction to his decision.

“I expected a lot of angry messages via email, telephone and social media.

“And, boy, did they come. Now that the flood of messages has slowed to a trickle, I can admit I was surprised.

“Surprised at the depth of emotions. Surprised at the political overtones. Surprised at how long the whole storm I created took to blow over.

Maybe you’re surprised that I was surprised.”

Shelton said he learned that the issue is very polarizing and how political the term can be. But he also stressed that the paper will not ignore the team and has also banned the use of the Cleveland Indians “Chief Wahoo” mascot dating back 20 years.

The Times is not the first newspaper to ban “Redskins.” The Oregonian, Kansas City Star, Orange County Register, San Francisco Chronicle and Slate have banned or will ban the use of the word.

[Seattle Times 1, 2]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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