Washington Post Won’t Use ‘Redskins’ in Editorials–But Will on Sports Pages

The capital's paper has issued a partial ban on the controversial nickname of the local NFL franchise.


In an act of hypocritical pandering, the Washington Post will no longer use the controversial nickname of the local NFL franchise in its editorial pages—but will continue profiting from Redskins coverage on its sports pages.

WaPo (“Washington Post editorials will no longer use ‘Redskins’ for the local NFL team“):

THIS PAGE has for many years urged the local football team to change its name. The term “Redskins,” we wrote in 1992, “is really pretty offensive.” The team owner then, Jack Kent Cooke, disagreed, and the owner now, Daniel M. Snyder, disagrees, too. But the matter seems clearer to us now than ever, and while we wait for the National Football League to catch up with thoughtful opinion and common decency, we have decided that, except when it is essential for clarity or effect, we will no longer use the slur ourselves. That’s the standard we apply to all offensive vocabulary, and the team name unquestionably offends not only many Native Americans but many other Americans, too.


What we are discussing here is a change only for editorials. Unlike our colleagues who cover sports and other news, we on the editorial board have the luxury of writing about the world as we would like it to be. Nor do we intend to impose our policy on our readers. If you write a letter about football and want to use the team name, we aren’t going to stop you.

But as Mr. Carey noted, every time the R-word is used, something disrespectful is happening. We hope Mr. Snyder and the NFL will acknowledge that truth sooner rather than later. In the meantime, we’ll do our best not to contribute to the disrespect.

This policy makes no sense whatsoever.

As regular readers know, I’ve come around in recent years to the view that, despite its proud heritage as the name of one of the oldest and successful teams in NFL history, the term “Redskins” is also a racial epithet that’s offensive to many and should be changed. Many, including my OTB colleague Doug Mataconis, disagree.

But, frankly, the WaPo position is precisely backwards. To be a meaningful gesture, the paper should stop using the name on its sports pages, where people who care about the Redskins come to read coverage on their beloved team. The editorial pages are much less read and almost never talk about the team0—and when they do, they’re almost always do so in the context of the naming controversy.

FILED UNDER: Race and Politics, Sports, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. jd says:

    Baby steps. But “R-word” made me laugh.

  2. Tyrell says:

    Considering their record over the last several years, a more appropriate name is “Washington Congress”.

  3. Tillman says:

    File this one under “we managed to pass a non-binding resolution condemning the usage of…”

  4. Pinky says:

    This policy makes perfect sense. You’ve heard conservatives who refer to the Democratic Party as the Democrat Party? That’s stupid. You can talk about the flaws in the party all you want to, but you don’t have the power to change its name. Personally, I get a little sick when I hear that band of Middle Eastern terrorists referred to as the “Islamic State”. They’re not a state, they’re a crime wave. But that’s their name.

    And more broadly, we have to recognize the difference between reporting and commentary. A news outlet is useless if it refuses to make the distinction. I never thought I’d be defending the WaPo, and refusing to use the Redskins’ name is pure junior high school, but they can print whatever they want to in their opinion section.

  5. al-Ameda says:

    Seems kind of lame to me.

    Basically, Dan Snyder will not change the name until it becomes clear to the rest of the owners in the NFL that they (the other owners) are losing money because of Snyder’s intransigence.

    The other owners are reticent to step up now because typically, billionaire owners are used to doing what ever they want (flip side: they do not want other billionaires telling them what to do with their franchises.) If the majority of the other owner/billionaires start to feel an economic impact because of the “Redskins” moniker, then “Redskins” will go away.

  6. Tyrell says:

    @al-Ameda: According to some reports, the NFL sttendance and tv viewer numbers have been fairly flat the last few years. There are some explanations: high prices of going to an NFL game, tv overexposure, and growing popularity of college football and other sports. The Redskins remain one of the most popular and valuable sports franchises, mainly because of their proud tradition and hall of fame players and coaches, way too numerous to name here and way above most teams.
    If and when Mr. Snyder decides to rename his team, my personal preference (and that of a lot of people) is Warriors. His top priority now is to return a tradition of winning to this great franchise.

  7. al-Ameda says:


    @al-Ameda: According to some reports, the NFL sttendance and tv viewer numbers have been fairly flat the last few years. There are some explanations: high prices of going to an NFL game, tv overexposure, and growing popularity of college football and other sports.

    The at-home experience is pretty good – big screen TV, free parking, cheap seating is available restrooms, cheaper food and much more, like Red Zone. In most venues in-person attendance costs an average of $200/game, beer is $10 or so, parking is $30 to $60, and on and on.

    The NFL remains inexplicably over-popular but maybe that is coming to an end.

  8. bill says:

    @al-Ameda: true, i hate paying $40 to park, plus ticket prices,etc. just so i can wait in line for someone to pee on my shoes.
    heck, i could have gone to the superbowl a few years beck but had 0.0 desire to partake of the “scene”.

  9. al-Ameda says:

    @bill: I hear you Bill. Football and the big screen are made for each other. I used to go to 49er games, however I tired of the grind to and from the game, let alone alcoholic fans inflicting themselves on fans with careers and an actual life.

  10. Gustopher says:

    The Washington Post should just pick a nickname to refer to them as, something that has a bit of the same major consonants as Redskins, so people recognize it, and with a meaning that hardens back to the original proud heritage of the word “redskin”, but which won’t offend their delicate sensibilities to use it in print.

    I suggest the Washington Racial Slurs.

  11. John S says:

    As the WP needs (and obviously knows they need) the Redskins much more than the Redskins need the WP Snyder should simply revoke all WP media credentials for events he controls until the editorial board reverses itself, admits it was wrong, and formally apologizes.

  12. bill says:

    why they need to be on the editorial page is just weird to begin with.
    @al-Ameda: wow, we agree on something, buy lotto tickets! plus, i hate the cowboys/jerry jones and will do anything to avoid giving that swine a penny. a friend of mine gave me a ticket to the cotton bowl a few years back, $100 seat as it wasn’t a big bowl game but i nearly pissed myself when the parking dude said $40. the stadiums nice but the seats suck, beer/food is obscenely priced, everyone’s watching that ginormous tv instead of the actual game- and there’s lines for the bathroom in a billion dollar stadium…..that’s just wrong. .

  13. mannning says:

    Circuses and bread and the name of the team are what we get in this era of degeneration in many spheres of endeavor. There must be a thousand far more significant issues to discuss than the Redskin’s name! One might think this is one of those distractions that remove space in the news for what the current masters want to hide. It most certainly turns real fans of the team into raving maniacs, and otherwise-directed people into frumps and picky parties. I suppose the next target for the slurry named teams will be the Cleveland Indians. Enough, there are better things to occupy one’s mind that this stupid controversy. The owner has the right to retain the name of his team, it is no slur, and if you don’t like it, just stay out of the way, and for God’s sake quit using space for the issue!