You’d think in 2014 it would go without saying.
The sports world is no place for hurtful slurs.
And as I’ve continued the enjoy the World Cup even as a novice at following soccer, the much-maligned FIFA took a big whiff when confronted with its latest controversy.
Some fans will always use salty language. But rampant chants of “puto,” a Spanish anti-gay slur, during a Brazil-Mexico match caused understandable uproar.
FIFA ecided against any disciplinary actions against fans or teams. The chants are “not considered insulting in this specific context,” according to FIFA. Hogwash. Try chanting any number of much-more-taboo racial slurs at a sporting event and see where that leads you. There is no acceptable context for antagonizing a large group of people.
“FIFA is a corrupt organization that allows migrant workers to be enslaved and worked to death. Unsurprising they don’t stop slurs,” NHL safety boss Patrick Burke tweeted Tuesday.
Maybe so. FIFA certainly has bigger issues to tackle, mainly the deadly migrant worker crisis in Qatar, but surely not too many to ignore their other problems.
-- Whether you’re for, against or indifferent to the Washington Redskins franchise changing its name, one conclusion is fairly obvious.
Daniel Snyder is handling this all wrong.
“We’ve seen this story before,” the official team statement began Wednesday in response to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s decision to cancel the team’s nickname trademark.
The statement referred to a similar decision in 1999 before its overturning four years later: ‘Nothing to see here,’ essentially.
So, because the franchise won last time, we should expect the same result? Ask the Miami Heat how that kind of thinking works.
Instead of listening to complaints, Snyder and company cling to a decidedly defiant tone.
The statement reads more like a defensive diatribe than a professional response. Sure, we love to rip on spokespeople for weak language. But honesty and decency aren’t mutually exclusive.
To so arrogantly dismiss the complaints ruins any chance at winning the battle for public opinion. For whatever polls Snyder wants to flaunt or trademark technicalities to exploit, it’s clear some Native Americans are offended by the name.
Of course, even in the case the trademark ruling sticks, it doesn’t spell the nickname’s end. At most it could cut into NFL revenue, but unlikely to an extent to force league action. The name’s future remains in Snyder’s hands.
-- St. Bonaventure scrapped the Brown Indians long before my undergraduate days, far from the only college to voluntarily change from an offensive name. In four years at SBU, I heard nary a peep decrying lost history as a result.
My childhood baseball team, the Cleveland Indians, have slowly phased out the smiling Chief Wahoo logo. Do I wish they’d scrap it for good? Sure. The block-C logo works fine, and if it doesn’t upset anyone, all the better.
Attending a playoff game last season was terrific, even though they lost to Tampa Bay. But seeing fans in full Wahoo regalia, red face paint and all, struck me as all wrong.
The Indians deserve credit for at least slowly acknowledging complaints, but they’re lucky to avoid the same spectre shining on the Redskins.
In case you needed anecdotal evidence of shifting opinions, even the far-from-PC radio legend Howard Stern sides against Snyder.
“Why would he be so dead-set against change?” Stern said Wednesday, June 18. “I mean, the team is still going to be there. Even if it was like the Washington Reds, or something, I don’t know. I mean, what would it mean to him?”
Attitudes change. People evolve. Once the ball starts rolling, it doesn’t reverse course.
But Snyder remains in denial.
You can go into the future with grace. Or you can go the way of Daniel Snyder and Sepp Blatter.
(Press sports editor Sam Wilson may be contacted at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @samwils.)