ADL's Foxman: Sports Teams Should Change 'Hurtful' Names

Image: ADL's Foxman: Sports Teams Should Change 'Hurtful' Names

Tuesday, 15 Oct 2013 10:46 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Amid a growing chorus demanding that the nickname of the Washington Redskins football team be changed, the Anti-Defamation League is asking pro sports teams to move away from using offensive names and mascots.

"We have come a long way in fighting discrimination and educating about the impact of prejudice and the fact that words and stereotypes can hurt," Abraham Foxman, national director of the ADL, said Tuesday.

"The decision to change the name should come from the team's ownership with input from the fan base," he said.

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Foxman noted that many U.S. sports franchises were first named in the early 20th century, when "offensive caricatures and stereotypes of Jews and other minorities were widespread in the mainstream media and popular culture."

"Sports has long been a centerpiece of our culture, and today it reflects American values of inclusion, pluralism and equality in a way it did not 50 or 60 years ago," Foxman said. "Numerous teams, particularly in college sports, have moved away from names that evoke negative stereotypes, particularly against Native Americans, to better reflect these values."

Foxman said that while he understands the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians don't mean to offend, their names can cause hurt.

"Tradition matters, but tradition should not justify the perpetuation of such names and mascots," Foxman wrote. "A name change will not impact how a team fares on the field or in the standings."

His call comes two days after Bob Costas, an influential broadcaster on NBC's "Sunday Night Football," said he agreed the Redskins' nickname is offensive and that the team should change it.

Even President Barack Obama recently said he would consider changing the name if he were the owner of the team.

National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell has said the league needs to consider the issue.

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