The Cleveland Indians have decided to prohibit the portrayal of mascot Chief Wahoo on team uniforms and in their home stadium of Progressive Field starting in 2019. While the team uniforms will change, fans will still be allowed to don and proliferate the logo as much as they like.
The decision to get rid of the controversial symbol stemmed from some much needed pressure from Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred on the team’s owner Paul Dolan, according to The New York Times.
“The club ultimately agreed with my position that the logo is no longer appropriate for on-field use in Major League Baseball, and I appreciate Mr. Dolan’s acknowledgement that removing it from the on-field uniform by the start of the 2019 season is the right course,” Manfred said in a statement reported by ESPN.
This is not the first time that the organization has decided to limit the portrayal of the discriminatory mascot. The Indians reduced the representation of Chief Wahoo by changing the main logo to a new insignia of the letter “C” back in 2014. Regardless of the change, the presence of Chief Wahoo still lingers with its location on merchandise, team uniforms and stadium decor.
In 2019, the name “Indians” and Chief Wahoo merchandise will still linger after the ban. While the choice to get rid of the racist logo may be admirable, it is not enough to eradicate the entire nature of the franchise offensive. “Indians” is a politically incorrect term that will still be used in reference to the team.
Cleveland natives are upset with the change. Some feel that the logo is part of their childhood and the team’s tradition. “Traditions” like this one, however, become outdated and do not evolve with modern day social standards.
While the logo has always been bigoted, today it is completely unacceptable and has become a taboo subject in American sports. Many other sports teams inside and outside of the MLB have racist names as well, like the Washington Redskins of the National Football League, but these names will not change anytime soon.
By only banning the logo on the field, the Cleveland organization is neglecting the most important aspect in this issue: the fans. The fans are the individuals who enable the racist attitude present in the logo via cultural appropriation and insensitivity.
Protests against Chief Wahoo have occurred outside Progressive Field during important games for the Indians and fans just simply ignore them. Not only is the logo racist in and of itself, but it allows individuals to appropriate the Native American culture by dressing up as them.
It’s selfish of the Cleveland Indians to only focus on making their organization appear politically correct because the problem lies in the ignorance to the absurd racism that occurs when fans wave Chief Wahoo’s face in the air.
Alternatively, colleges have taken positive steps by changing discriminatory Native American team names like the St. John’s University Redmen, who in 1994 became the Red Storm. As positive as this is for college teams, it’s difficult to just rebrand a team, especially for such a long existing and large franchise like the Cleveland Indians.
Ideally, the Indian’s organization should address their brand as a whole, rather than barely eliminating the presence of the racist logo. This would be influential for the handful of offensive sport team names present today.
Simply eradicating one element of the complex problem does not address the entire issue at hand and discourages any other sports organization from following suit.