If you follow local sports, you may have noticed something. For the past several months this paper has not used the term Redskins to describe any of our local sports teams. Instead we use terms like ‘the Teton team” or simply “Teton.”
The only place the term has appeared is as the title for the weekly sports schedule, “The Redskin Roundup.”
So, why am I pointing this out. Because this is a choice we, as a paper, have made. The school nor any of its sports teams have not changed their names. The decision was made that with the changing attitudes in our country around the word, Redskins was no longer appropriate for our writers to use.
We still use the word if a coach or athlete uses it in a quote, but outside of that, we don’t use it.
However, we still use the team’s logo, that of an American Indian chief in a full headdress. That raises the question, what exactly is offensive. Is the word Redskins offensive or is it insulting to have American Indian Mascots at all.
Is this a debate simply around one word, or is it a discussion around how we treat minority groups within our culture? To be clear, I am not coming down on either side of this. I have personal thoughts on this issue, but I’m am not sharing them in this newspaper nor do I have plans to do so in the future.
My point is this. We stopped using the word despite the fact that the team did not change its name. It was our choice not to use the term, it does not reflect the will of the community.
The community has strong feelings on both sides of the issue, as we have covered in this paper, but the school district has not elected to change the name.
By us not using the official name in our coverage, it could be seen that we are making a statement on the issue. If we don’t feel it is an appropriate word to use in a newspaper how could we feel it’s a wholesome and proper name for a children’s sports team?
As I wrote at the beginning of this piece, we made this change months ago. I think the community deserves to know when we make changes that could be seen as making a statement on local issues.
I am asking you now, let us know what you think. I hope you let us know in respectful ways, but reach out.
We are the local paper and are responsible to our readers for the choices we make and, as such, I want to let you know when we make changes.
In a final bit of context, as I said before, this change was made several months ago. I can say that, as measured by emails, phone calls and letters to the editor: No one noticed.