NO ESCAPE: Political Correctness and Sports

Written by Andrew Linn on October 6, 2014

A few days ago, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said it was taking into consideration possible fines and/or suspension of any television or radio broadcaster who uses the name “Redskins” (i.e. Washington Redskins). Such a statement is the latest development in an on-and-off debate over the use of the names of sports teams considered to be offensive by some.

This potential action was the result of George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf III submitting a petition to the FCC, in which he asked that radio station WWXX-FM (ESPN) not have its broadcast license renewed for using the term “Redskins”. Should the FCC decide not to renew the license, it would jeopardize the license renewals of all broadcast stations who use any word(s) that someone might find to be offensive. Thus, the FCC would have more far-reaching power.

Of course, this is not the only instance of political correctness in sports. Aside from names considered to be offensive (Washington Redskins, Atlanta Braves, Florida State Seminoles, Illinois Fighting Illini, Mississippi “Ole Miss” Rebels (the latter considered to be offensive because of its use of the Confederate flag and the name Ole Miss referring to a plantation mistress), names of sports rivalries have also been changed.

One such rivalry is the Red River Shootout (a.k.a. Red River Rivalry, a.k.a. Red River Showdown) football game between Texas and Oklahoma (it also extends to other sports played between the two schools). The name originated from the Red River (which forms part of the Texas-Oklahoma boundary) and the conflicts that took place there, such as the 1931 Red River Bridge War.

In 2005, the term “Rivalry” replaced “Shootout” because the term “Shootout” was thought to be condoning gun violence (perhaps with the number of school shootings is what some politically correct individual had in mind). In addition, the networks were pressured into using the politically correct names for the rivalry. In the aftermath of the 2008 game (Texas won 45-35), an ESPN broadcaster stated that “we’re not supposed to call it a shootout, but that’s what it was.”

Another rivalry which has succumbed to political correctness is the Border War (a.k.a. Border Showdown) between Kansas and Missouri. The name originates from the Civil War Era — e.g. Border Ruffians, Bleeding Kansas, Jayhawkers, William Quantrill and his raiders. In 2004, “Border War” was replaced with “Border Showdown.”

The reason? Because of 9/11 and subsequent wars (Afghanistan, Iraq), it was considered inappropriate to call any sports event a war. Whoever made this decision or advocated it is an anti-war liberal. Despite the name change, many people refused to cave in. In fact, one former Kansas coach responded to the name change by stating “it’s a God d—n border war, and they started it” (“they” being Missouri — a reference to the Border Ruffians).

It’s bad enough that political correctness has infiltrated the academic area of schools at all levels. It’s even worse that political correctness infiltrates sports at all levels as well. If the FCC decides to ban the use of the name Redskins, then there is no telling which names of sport teams will be next. In fact, any word someone finds to be offensive will become fair game. Thus, the FCC must reject Banzhaf’s petition.



Andrew Linn
Andrew Linn is a member of the Owensboro Tea Party and a former Field Representative for the Media Research Center. An ex-Democrat, he became a Republican one week after the 2008 Presidential Election. He has an M.A. in history from the University of Louisville, where he became a member of the Phi Alpha Theta historical honors society. He has also contributed to and Right Impulse Media.