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Daddy, What's a Redskin?

10/09/2013 09:59 pm ET | Updated Dec 09, 2013

"Daddy, what's a Redskin?"

"Where did you hear that word?"

"Some of the boys at school were talking about a football game Sunday."

"Oh, right, the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys. The Redskins and Cowboys and a bunch of other teams play football in what's called the NFL."

"But what's a Redskin?"

"It's an old, old word some people used to call Indians, but we now call them Native Americans."

"Why?"

"Because some people thought Indian wasn't the best or nicest thing to call them anymore, and everyone sort of agreed."

"So, we call them Redskins now?"

"No, no, just the football team."

"Why?"

"Well, because many people know and like the team's name and don't consider it an insulting thing to call the football players. It's been the name of the team for like 80 years. They think it's a strong, proud kind of name."

"They did win Super Bowls, didn't they Daddy?"

"Yes, son, but that was a long time ago."

"Are any football players Native American?"

"Not that I know of."

"Does the man who owns the football team like the name Redskins?"

"Very much."

"Do the men who own the other football teams like the name Redskins?"

"They seem to."

"So, who wants them to change their name?"

"Some Native Americans have asked the team to change their name. Even the President of the United States says the name might not the best idea. And some people who write stories about football won't use the name."

"So, if I ever meet a Native American I shouldn't call them a Redskin?"

"No, you shouldn't."

"I don't understand. All those football players are called Redskins, and people love to watch them play and buy T-shirts with their names on them."

"It's a little complicated. A lot of people don't mind the name when it comes to the football team. Others think Redskins can sound like a really mean name. Kind of like if you called one of your friends a liar or something like that."

"Native Americans lie?"

"I'm not saying that . . ."

"Do they have red skin?"

"No."

"I heard some people have yellow skin."

"That's not true, either."

"I still don't understand. It's OK if I call the football players Redskins but not people who don't play football?"

"That's right."

"Just one more thing, Daddy."

"Yes?"

"Are we going to watch the Redskins game?"

"You bet."

"Are they the bad guys?"

"No, the Cowboys are the bad guys, always."

"But when you were a boy didn't you play Cowboys and Indians -- sorry, I mean, Cowboys and Native Americans?"

"Yes, we'd play that sometimes."

"Weren't the Cowboys always the good guys?"

"They were, but that was just a game, son. This is the NFL."

"Oh, I think I understand now. I'm sorry."

"What are you sorry for?"

"I'm sorry your baseball team lost. Will the Atlanta Braves be good next year too?"

"I hope so."

"Daddy?"

"Yes?"

"What are Braves?"