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The Pigskins Shame Spiral is an occasional feature tracking developments related to the name of D.C.’s beloved football team.

Who: Bob Costas, sportscaster for NBC.

Change the name? Yes.


Why? “Ask yourself what the equivalent would be if directed toward African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians or members of any other ethnic group,” Costas said on air Sunday, at halftime of the Pigskins’ loss to the Dallas Cowboys. “When considered that way, ‘[Pigskins]’ 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. It’s fair to say that for a long time now, and certainly in 2013, no offense has been intended but if you take a step back, isn’t it clear to see how offense might legitimately be taken?”


Shame Spiral rating: SMDH. Costas is a pretty prominent guy in the world of sports broadcasting. For him to dispute team owner Dan Snyder‘s stance—during halftime of Sunday Night Football, no less—sends the message that the issue of the team’s offensive name is more than just a bunch of liberals arguing for political correctness for the mere sake of political correctness. Publications like Slate and The New Republic have come out against the name, but these publications have small, relatively homogenous audiences and hardly cover sports. Costas, on the other hand, spoke in prime time to the large population of Americans who watch football. The only thing better would have been if Costas vowed never to say the team’s name again on air—and if NBC hadn’t promptly repeated it over and over again throughout the second half.

Illustration by Jandos Rothstein