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Thursday, January 29
 
Calif. close to banning 'Redskins' mascots

ESPN.com news services

SACRAMENTO -- In addressing an issue that professional sports teams such as the Washington Redskins have faced and resisted in recent years, the California State Assembly passed a bill Thursday that would require the state's middle and high schools to drop "Redskins" as their mascots if the bill becomes law.

The Assembly passed the bill 43-20 after a lengthy, passionate debate about Native American-related mascot names that are common throughout California and the nation.

If passed by the Senate and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the ban would begin in January 2006 and make California the first state to issue such a ban for all its public elementary, middle and high schools.

The move was a compromise to pass a bill that originally called to ban eight names common for sports teams and school spirit, including Indians, Braves, Chiefs, Apaches, Comanches, Papooses and Warriors.

Schools in Tulare, Gustine, Calaveras, Pine Valley, Colusa and Chowchilla use "Redskins" as school mascots.

State officials estimate the change will cost schools about $125,000.

"The California Department of Motor Vehicles won't issue this as a personal license plate because it's derogatory, yet we allow California high school students to wear this on their sweat shirts and uniforms," said Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, D-Los Angeles, who authored the bill.

Thursday's vote came more than a year Goldberg's first attempt to ban the names at public schools, community colleges and state universities failed in the Assembly.

Many Republicans voted against the measure, saying the state has more important business, including a cash crisis and a broken workers' compensation system.

Assemblyman Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks, said the compromise represented the incremental beginning of eventually banning all Native American-related names.

"I was disappointed the Washington Redskins didn't make the playoffs," he said, regarding the National Football League team.

Cox also read Sacramento County street names with Native American names and suggested lawmakers would also try to ban such military terms as Apache helicopters and Tomahawk missiles.

But supporters said incremental change is necessary.

"Sometimes incremental change is all you can get," said Assemblyman Jerome Horton, D-Inglewood.

"I am sad we cannot go further today," said Goldberg. "But I am not willing to let another year go by that we would allow this state's public funds to keep a shameful name like Redskins on the books."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.




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