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Scrabble May Remove Racist, Homophobic Slurs From Competition

Official group wants to remove racist and homophobic slurs from board game Scrabble.

Describing it as a “small first step,” the group responsible for administering official competitive tournaments for Scrabble in the United States is considering removing slurs and other offensive words from their list of words acceptable for game play. The North American Scrabble Players Association posted an open letter to its members and asked the group’s advisory board to reconsider the use of words like bulldike, faggot, and blowjob, as well as the N-word.

“When we play a slur, we are declaring that our desire to score points in a word game is of more value to us than the slur's broader function as a way to oppress a group of people,” NASPA CEO John Chew wrote in an earlier edition of the group’s newsletter. “I don't think that this is the time for us to be contributing divisively to the world's problems.

Scrabble is a board game invented in 1933 by American architect Mosher Butts. The name is trademarked in the United States and Canada by Hasbro, while it is trademarked by Mattel elsewhere in the world. The wildly popular game has sold over 150 million sets in 121 countries and 29 languages.

In their mission statement, NASPA seeks to “foster an environment” where all skill levels can “improve their abilities” but also more importantly “meet people who share a similar love of the game.” The group’s social media lists words of the day for its members.

Previously, the National Scrabble Association promoted official Scrabble tournaments with funding from the game’s manufacturer, Hasbro. NASPA was founded in 2009 with the help and blessing of the NSA and Hasbro after the company dropped funding for adult competitions to focus instead on introducing the games to schools and children for use as a fun way to improve and expand student’s vocabulary. While NAPSPA is the only official administrator of tournaments for the board game in the country, it now receives no funding from Hasbro and is instead supported through membership dues.

The group has provided an online survey for its members to decide which words, if any, are removed from official game play. The official list of words under consideration can be found here.

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