Anyone familiar with spectator sports of any kind know the name Bob Costas. He's been around broadcasting since the early 1980s.
Well, Sunday night during NBC's Sunday Night Football, at halftime, Costas took on the Washington Redskins. It was the first time and it was important that it occured in the midst of a hugely watched national broadcast of America's most favorite team sport...NFL Football.
He used two minutes of airtime to do so. That might not seem like much and his actions aren't like the bravest thing ever done, but, you know what, it's a big deal, whatever you think.
Costas said that the word Redskins, "...can’t possibly honor a heritage or a noble character trait, nor could it possibly be considered a neutral term. It’s an insult, a slur no matter how benign the present-day intent."
Costas wasn't through. The next day he appeared on The Dan Patrick radio program. Costas had a question for Washington's football teams owner Don Snyder:
“If you were to walk into a gathering of Native Americans–if you were on a reservation or happened to come across a family of Native Americans in a restaurant, and you began conversing with them–would you feel comfortable referring to them as Redskins?”
Personally, I liked to see Snyder try that.
Right wingers and racists jumped all over Costas for his "audacity." Many on the left thought he was too mild and let too many off the hook.
Again, the fact that this man said something on this night is of importance if one actually cares about getting rid of that slur of a name and of dealing with the whole issue of racist mascots and names in general. It is important to take on the issue of white supremacy in popular culture in a place where millions of "not just the choir" are watching. If one is only interested in scoring some polemical victory on either the left or the right, then I suppose it is of no matter.
It is interesting that less then two weeks earlier Steven Gaydos wrote on the Variety web site:
What’s wrong with this sports picture?
Perhaps the most overdue demonstration of one scintilla of the testosterone that drives the multibillion dollar sports broadcasting industry is for one leading figure from CBS, ESPN, Fox, NBC et al to stand up to the dude who owns the Washington Redskins and say, “We think your refusal to change the name of your franchise stinks.”
Perhaps that could be phrased in a slightly less contentious, confrontational manner, but hey, this is the big-time macho, masculine world of concussions, blown knees and lots of violent felony convictions.
Could the television, radio and online folks making billions off all of the crashing and banging on field demonstrate that they have one tiny gonad between all of them?
Or do the riches they make off the NFL render them as impotent as a pep squad full of castratos?
Consider that the Washington Bullets changed their name because frankly, there are enough real bullets in Washington, D.C. to warrant a little sensitivity, which is all that is being asked of billionaire franchise owner Daniel Marc Snyder.
Since it doesn’t seem likely that anyone is launching a sports franchise named the Whiteys, Rednecks, Blackfaces, Yellowskins, Brownbacks, it raises the question as to why Mr. Snyder is sticking to his guns and continues to shoot down any effort by Native Americans, especially the Oneida tribe, who simply would like a little of what Otis and Aretha sang about decades ago.
How about a little respect?
That's tough in a white supremacist society...
Both Posts below are from The Nation. The first is relates to Costas' remarks. The second (from 2011) gets into the racist history of the Washington Football franchise in general. You will want to read them both.
Broadcast personality Bob Costas looks into the camera while at yesterday’s game between the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys, in Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
A History Lesson for the Redskins Owner
- Redskins owner Dan Snyder, in the wake of his widely reviled defamation suit against the Washington City Paper, has been on a DC media charm offensive to tell his side of the story. Unfortunately “Dan Snyder” and “charm” go together like “Glenn Beck” and “sanity.” He’s the sort of person who comes off as both nasty and needy at the same time. Think Dina Lohan, if Dina Lohan looked like George Costanza with hair. But in one interview, with Lavar Arrington, Mike Wise and others on 106.7 The Fan, Snyder really crossed the line from “charm offensive” to racist historical whitewash.