NY Daily News doing away with “Redskins” in sports pages

NY Daily News has large and loyal readership in Connecticut, which now must do without the “R” word in its favorite sports pages

By Joel Alderman

For as long as I can remember, this senior citizen has often turned to the pages of the New York Daily News for its great sports coverage. It has always had noted columnists, detailed stories, sports cartoonists and vivid action pictures. I can even remember when a News photo was a News foto.

The paper long ago developed the popularity of the back page, giving rise to reading it in reverse order.

I’m not the only one in the tri-state area who has been a follower of the Daily News, especially for its sports coverage. There have always been untold thousands of subscribers and readers here in Connecticut alone, causing stiff competition to our own papers. It’s available in just about every super market, convenience store, pharmacy, and newsstand that our local publications are also sold in. That is why when the News just dropped its bombshell, it will impact most of us.

It makes me wonder which of the Nutmeg state’s papers will follow the trend. Will it be the Hartford Courant, New Haven Register, Connecticut Post, Waterbury Republican, New London Day, or some other?

The Daily News’ decision

On Aug. 3rd, in an editorial captioned The Daily News will no longer refer to the Washington professional football team by its unacceptable nickname, it became the latest in an ever growing list of papers and journalists to take that step.

The News has even gone further than other publications that are virtually banning the word, such as the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Buffalo News, and Kansas City Star. It will not even publish the Redskin logo, which depicts a feathered character. Earlier this year, the team name and logo were deprived of their U.S. trademark protection.

Although the team has been known as the Redskins since 1933, the News wrote that “no new franchise would consider adopting a name based on pigmentation – Whiteskins, Blackskins, Yellowskins or Redskins,” and that the “time has come to leave the word (Redskins) behind.”

The only exception to the new policy by the Daily News will be in letters it publishes from readers, news stories or columns dealing with the issue, and in statistical listings provided by the NFL.

Phil Simms, Tony Dungy and two writers say they will axe the word

A few weeks ago, Phil Simms, the former player and now TV analyst, stated he would probably no longer use the name Redskins on any game he is assigned to cover for CBS. He is due to work the Giants game with Washington on Sept. 25th.

Former coach Tony Dungy, a studio analyst for NBC, will not utter the word either, but his counterpart on CBS, and popular WFAN personality, Boomer Esiason, said he will continue to use it.

Journalists Peter King (Sports Illustrated) and William C. Rhoden (The New York Times) have gone on record that they will not refer to the “R” word in their articles.

The Daily News editorial makes a very thoughtful point that even outside of sports, words and expressions that once were accepted are now being phased out. It explains that hardly ever is a person referred to as a “Negro” anymore, but as “black” or “African-American.” Also, people are no longer considered as “retarded” but “developmentally disabled” or “challenged.” Even those who are physically handicapped are being referred to instead as “people with disabilities.”

Getting back to the name Redskins, the Daily News concedes that in a recent ESPN poll, just 23% felt the team should use a different nickname. However, a year ago, the percentage in favor of a change was even less, or 14%. This shows, says the paper, that opposition to the “R” word went up nine percent.

The News feels that movement “is headed in the right direction” and says it is proud to be part of the trend.

As is said at the outset, the time is certain to come, probably during the NFL season that just started, when at least one paper in Connecticut will make a similar decision, and then others will follow. Which will it be? The Courant, Register, Post, Republican, Day, or some other?

To use a popular expression from another of the media, “stay tuned!”

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