Nova Scotia

CBC's John Hancock on why he won't call Cleveland's team 'Indians'

He is following example of Blue Jays announcer Jerry Howarth, who says he stopped using team name back in 1992 following a heartfelt letter from an Indigenous listener about the offensive term.

Sportscaster following example of Blue Jays announcer Jerry Howarth to avoid racist names

Veteran CBC sportscaster is following example of Blue Jays announcer Jerry Howarth, who says he stopped using team name back in 1992 following heartfelt letter from First Nations listener. 1:39

CBC's John Hancock has been a sportscaster for more than 40 years, but says it's time for a change in the sports world.

This week, longtime Blue Jays announcer Jerry Howarth revealed that he quietly stopped calling Cleveland's baseball team "Indians" back in 1992. He was prompted by a heartfelt letter from an Indigenous listener who explained why the term was offensive. 

Hancock said the decision is the right one, and he announced during his Thursday morning sportscast that he plans to follow Howarth's example. Hancock's sports updates are heard each morning by CBC Radio listeners from St. John's to Calgary. 

"It resonated with me because I've been around as long as Jerry Howarth and I have used those names for a long time. So I've decided that I'm not going to use those names — 'Indians,' or 'Redskins' when I'm talking about football."

'It's ridiculous'

Hancock said he will also avoid using sayings like "powwow on the mound" or referring to the Atlanta Braves' "tomahawk chop," which have also been described as racist by many in the Indigenous community.  

"I can't imagine following a team that is referred to as 'White Anglo-Saxons' or something like that, it's ridiculous," he said.

Hancock added that it might take him a while to break the habit after 40 years, but he'll get there. 

"I know I'll slip at times, but I know I'll have people on Twitter to remind me of what I've promised."