The North American Scrabble Players Association is prepared to vote this week to ban more than 200 offensive words from its official lexicon for judging in tournaments, according to a report from The New York Times. If the rule change is approved as expected, the ban will go in effect by September.
Hasbro told The New York Times on Tuesday the NASPA had “agreed to remove all slurs from their word list for Scrabble tournament play, which is managed solely by NASPA and available only to members.” Hasbro owns rights to Scrabble in North America.
While some competitive Scrabble players endorse using the words because of the points allotted, John Chew, the CEO of NASPA, told members in a recent newsletter banning the words is best because of the harm they can cause even on a Scrabble board.
“I have felt for a long time that there are some words in our lexicon that we hang onto in the mistaken belief that our spelling them with tiles on a board strips them of their power to cause harm,” Chew said.
“It is not hard to unlearn 238 words (including inflections), none of which are high-probability, and all of which have offensive meanings that are easy to remember.”
Although the NASPA controls the dictionary for tournaments, Hasbro is in charge of the lexicon for all official Scrabble games and digital versions.
Hasbro spokeswoman Julie Duffy told The New York Timesa change would be made on a broader scale “to make clear that slurs are not permissible in any form of the game.”