Sports announcers will not have to say the name of Washington’s professional football team on the air while commentating on games, ESPN said Saturday.
ESPN made the decision after Keith Olbermann challenged the sports network to institute a policy similar to that which has been adopted by publications like the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, Slate, and the Washington City Paper, as well as channels like CBS Sports. The controversial name has been slammed by civil rights and athletic organizations alike for its ethnic stereotyping of Native Americans.
“Our consistent company policy will continue: using official names and marks as presented by the teams, leagues and conferences we cover,” ESPN said in a statement. “We do, however, recognize the debate over the use of ‘Washington Redskins’ and have afforded individuals the opportunity to decide how they will use those words when reporting on the team.”
Olbermann called on ESPN to change its policy after numerous sports announcers, including CBS’ Phil Simms and Greg Gumbel and NBC’s Tony Dungy, announced that they would not use the NFL team name in the future. ESPN’s Tom Jackson, an NFL analyst, was apparently planning to stop saying it before the network made their own announcement.
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