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NFL takes a stand against the n-word

Stephen Nolan, Sports Editor
March 16, 2014 • 1,059 views

Another week, another controversy in the NFL. A new rule has been proposed under which players will be penalized 15 yards for using the n-word. Considering that the issue is so racially charged, it comes as no surprise that there are strong and passionate opinions on both sides of the argument.

When it comes to the ban on the n-word, views are divided. It seems impossible to justify the use of a word that has such painful connotations and such a negative history. It is important to teach players and fans alike that this slur is not appropriate to use in any kind of setting. However, I do not believe the NFL goes far enough. By just placing a ban on the n-word, the organization is neglecting to address other slurs and foul language. Why not ban all foul language and any kind of slur? A 15-yard penalty for using the n-word word, while there are no sanctions for other vulgar language, seems to be an inept way to go about resolving the issue.

However, there’s one issue that a large number of fans and players have with the proposed rule: the penalty may be more likely to affect players of color. According to Seattle Seahawks star Richard Sherman, the NFL ban on the use of the n-word on the field is outrageous and “almost racist.”

Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin agrees with him. “I think it’s absurd,” Baldwin said. “If you look at it, the only people who say the n-word on the football field are African–Americans…we have turned it kind of into a term of endearment.”

Many find it ironic that a majority-white NFL governing body is the one behind the proposed law. Despite this, banning only the n-word ignores other slurs, which are still allowed.

“It’s kind of odd to me when there’s so many other things that are more offensive that have been said on the football field,” Baldwin said. He is not alone in believing that the NFL should not be able to tell young black Americans which words they can and can’t use when referring to one another.

Personally, I believe that the NFL is being hypocritical in its implementation of the ban. They are banning the n-word while at the same time ignoring the issue of changing the name of the Washington Redskins. The NFL has a responsibility to positively influence young football fans. Tidying up the sport and raising its standard of conduct and decorum might require a ban of the n-word in the long run. However, if this is indeed the road that the NFL wants to take, it must also address other glaring problems that exist in the sport.

“Banning the n-word is an atrocious idea,” Sherman said. “Why wouldn’t all curse words be banned then?”

It’s not unusual for Sherman to have a lot to say, but perhaps this time he is saying something worth listening to. The NFL should not make half-hearted efforts to clean up the sport. Either take the leap and implement widespread bans on slurs, or do not make an attempt at all.

 

nolans@stolaf.edu

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