Fight to change Redskins name lacks emotion, political power of Sterling protests

WASHINGTON – Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling’s alleged racist comments have ignited a firestorm. The outrage has been swift and the calls for action against the L.A. businessman fierce.

The NAACP will not honor Sterling with an award, as previously planned. Players like Michael Jordon have called the comments disgusting and are pushing the NBA to act quickly against Sterling. Sponsors have begun to pull their support of the Clippers. And now there’s talk that fans might boycott Tuesday’s playoff game.

“The pressure is going to be overwhelming,” says CBS Sports radio host John Feinstein. “This is is such an emotional issue with so many people.”

But that emotion is lacking when it comes to the fight to change the name of the Washington Redskins, Feinstein says.

In comparison, opponents of the name of Washington’s NFL team have been trying for years to convince the team to pick a different nickname. Native American tribes like the Oneida Indian Nation say its a racial slur that hurts living today and demeans native peoples’ history.

“It’s an equally divisive issue or should be. But of course African Americans are far more important financially in sports than American Indians are,” Feinstein says.

Black men make up the majority of both NFL and NBA players. They have power in numbers, money and they have become team owners as well. Meanwhile, Native American players are few and far between among major league sports.

Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder has said repeatedly that the name won’t change and that the name honors Native Americans. In March, Snyder announced that he had created a foundation to assist and benefit Native American tribes and people.

And last week he said the emphasis on the team’s name is a distraction from the real problems facing native people today.

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