The Winds of Change Are Blowing

Charles E. Sutton | 2/11/2013, 4:06 p.m.

A Sports Commentary

If you tell me I've insulted you, it means that I have. I don't get to decide if you're insulted. Once you've told me that my actions are harmful, I should change them. I may have my own standards, but I can't impose them on others.

At this point, that's where the Washington Redskins and the American Indians stand. Having opposing positions, unable to comprehend why the other won't change its point of view. And ultimately, the team's fans will get caught in the middle.

The 20-plus year dispute on whether the term "Redskins" insults American Indians continued on Thursday at "A Community Conversation About the Washington NFL Team Name,' held at the National Museum of the American Indian.

What we're witnessing isn't a demand for the organization to change its name. It's a request to resist immediately saying no.

Many Redskins fans don't view the team's name as racist. But if the term isn't derogatory, then why are some American Indians offended?

Redskins fans believe that it's a small group of people who are offended, so why bother making a change? Look at it this way, the American legal system often highlights the "scales of justice", which means the system often protects the rights of one versus the many, even if the benefits of many outweigh the individual.

For those Redskin fans who consider the name an issue of heritage, remember the same argument was made by supporters of the Southern rebel flag from the Civil War that African-Americans find to be an offensive reminder of slavery. You no longer see that flag flying atop Southern state legislatures.

The term "Redskins" is as offensive to some American Indians as the N-word is to African Americans. That word is no longer commonly used because the white community pressured itself to stop. However, the American Indian community hasn't received the same consideration, and using the term "Redskins" is still culturally acceptable.

More than 2,000 high schools and colleges with nicknames related to Americans Indians have changed their names and the Redskins will too. But it won't happen anytime soon. All things change and the team will change its name one day.

In order for change to occur, it will take corporate sponsors like FedEx protesting by refusing to spend millions of dollars before Snyder or the NFL considers a name change. It can take decades for that type of education to take hold in corporate America.

One day, the Redskins home stadium won't be called FedEx Field, they won't have an Indian logo on the side of their helmets and they won't sing "Hail to the Redskins". Change is on the way. It's unavoidable.