Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bob Costas', Gyasi Ross' View on the term "Redskins"? Hostile and Abusive

(Editor's Note: I wrote the first portion of this piece yesterday, and embarrassingly, didn't realize that there was much more to write. Thus, the text and the headline have been redacted.)

Gyasi Ross put up a piece on Deadspin the other day, and I've been indirectly told not to write pieces about pieces, but sometimes you just can't help it. He started with a Bob Costas clip, then elaborated.

I’ve always admired the work and professionalism of Bob Costas. That is, I did, until he used prime air time to call the term “Redskins” an insult and a slur. This development disappoints on an inward level. Costas has, for years, been a household name, and deservedly so: His dedication to consistent, top-tier production of his craft has few parallels. That he’s been given the platforms he has is admirable, and his delivery almost always warrants respect. But not this time.

He does a great job touching on the history of sports teams with Native American mascots, both past and present. I find it suspicious at best, however, that he failed to include the University of North Dakota’s recently retired mascot: the Fighting Sioux.

In short, the school’s mascot was in existence for 13 years, and for most of those years -- based largely on pressures from the National Collegiate Athletic Association -- said existence was an ongoing court case because the NCAA felt the logo and imagery were offensive to Native Americans. The logo, by the way is a profile-style likeness of a male Native American face. I use “likeness” loosely there as it resembles a human being about as much as a modern-day pirate would have an eye patch and a wooden leg.

Either way, there were groups that supported, if not led, the idea that the university should cease usage of the mascot. Many more were in support of keeping it. The NCAA -- under the claim that the imagery was hostile and abusive -- then threatened to fiscally punish the institution, but saw their efforts thwarted when they were sued.