Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

Our friend Josh Levin over at Slate made a fascinating discovery today: Back in the mid-2000s, when ESPN broadcast the finals of the National Scrabble Championship, a total of 170 words were prohibited from being used during the game. One of them was nickname of Washington's NFL franchise, which Slate will no longer refer to directly.

Levin made that find while poring through a series Dan Wachtell had written for Slate in 2004 about the Scrabble tournament. Wachtell wrote that the decision to ban words was made by the National Scrabble Association "in conjunction with ESPN." Stefan Fatsis, also of Slate, wrote about competitive Scrabble in the book Word Freak. In addition, Fatsis was part of ESPN's broadcast team for the Scrabble championships. He confirmed to Levin that "Redskins" definitely was on the banned list.

Fatsis says everyone involved in the production was aware of the irony here: that the Worldwide Leader didn’t want to sully its airwaves with a word that constantly sullied its airwaves.



Photo: Getty

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