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Seattle Times gets rid of 'Redskins,' joins rising tide against name

By Kevin Conlon, CNN
updated 5:30 PM EDT, Thu June 19, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Seattle Times becomes latest paper to stop using the name ''Redskins"
  • Sports editor: "The most controversial name in sports won't appear again" in print or online editions
  • Kansas City Star, San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian don't use the word either

(CNN) -- In week five of the upcoming NFL season, the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks will play a nameless opponent.

At least that's what it will look like in the sports pages of the hometown Seattle Times newspaper because that's when the Seahawks travel to Washington to play a team whose name has become a political football.

"It's time to ban the use of "Redskins,"" wrote sports editor Don Shelton, who called the nickname "absurd, offensive and outdated."

"The most controversial name in sports won't appear again in The Seattle Times' print edition or on the seattletimes.com home pages as long as I am sports editor," Don Shelton announced in a Thursday column.

Seattle's only major daily print newspaper joins a growing list of others -- such as the Kansas City Star and San Francisco Chronicle -- that have chosen to do the same.

Others outlets such as Slate, New Republic and Mother Jones have banned the word too, though those publications aren't exactly known for the breadth of their football coverage.

A couple of hours to the south in Portland, the Pacific Northwest's other major daily -- the Oregonian -- banned the word outright in the early '90s.

Back then, the Seattle Times was limiting its use to one mention per article and leaving it out of headlines and photo captions, according to Shelton.

"The decision felt progressive at the time," he said. "(B)ut now we need to go further."

The usage of Native American imagery in sports has been a long-simmering controversy.

The Redskins have increasingly become the primary focus of a campaign of sensitivity that has thus far failed to sway professional sports teams.

In fact, some of the very same papers that have banned "the R-word" have done no such thing when it comes to the Native American-inspired Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Indians.

Is banning "Redskins" then a double standard? No, says Shelton. "Some argue that if you ban Redskins, you have to ban all other Native American mascots. I don't agree," he wrote. "(Other Native American nicknames) don't generate the same visceral reaction."

The collegiate level has been less reluctant to heed mounting calls for change.

In 2005, the NCAA sought to end the controversy surrounding Native American mascots once and for all by ordering nearly 20 schools whose nicknames and mascots they deemed "abusive in terms of race, ethnicity or national origin" to either get Native American permission to use their name and likeness, or to come up with new monikers.

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