Effective in 2019, the Cleveland Indians will be abandoning their “Chief Wahoo” logo, an overdramatized and offensive depiction of a Native American, that they have used since 1948.
After pressure was put on the organization by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, Indians’ chairman Paul Dolan decided to phase out the logo.
According to a statement from Manfred, “[the Indians] 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 acknowledgment that removing it from the on-field uniform by the start of the 2019 season is the right course.”
While the logo will no longer appear on the team’s uniforms or around Progressive Field beginning next season, fans will still be able to purchase items with the “Chief Wahoo” logo on them at the team’s souvenir shops in the stadium and at retail outlets in the northern Ohio market, but those items will not be available for sale on MLB’s website.
It is a small step for the Indians to rectify the situation, however more needs to be done going forward. Not just in regards to the Indians organization, but other sports teams in general.
The Washington Redskins name has come under fire for the same reason, as have the Chicago Blackhawks and the Atlanta Braves.
According to an article by The New York Times, the deliberation stopped at changing the logo, but not the name. However, that should be the ultimate goal. The logo change is important, but they need to go a step further and change the name altogether.
“Why wait?” said Phillip Yenyo, the executive director of the American Indian Movement of Ohio in regards to waiting until next season to change the logo. “If you are going to go this far and get rid of it, why not do it now? All they are doing is testing it out, because the name has to go, too. The nickname absolutely has to go. It’s not just the logo.”
Fans may argue that it has been part of the team’s fabric since they have come into existence, but that doesn’t mean it’s right.
It’s 2018 and there is no room for blatant racism in sports. The team replaced Chief Wahoo as their primary logo with a block “C” for Cleveland in 2014, but still used it during big stage games, such as the World Series in 2016.
Though the team will now stop using the logo on their uniforms, they will still make money off merchandise bearing the logo in the team store and in Cleveland.
“By maintaining the trademark, the team, with the supervision of MLB, retains control of the proliferation of the logo,” according to The New York Times. “If it relinquished the trademark, or announced an intention never to claim its protections, another party could legally assume control of it and use the logo in other ways.”
While I commend the Indians for making a conscious decision to change their logo, this should pressure other teams to get rid of their offensive logos and tendencies as well. However, names such as the Indians or Redskins are equally offensive.
Hopefully, as time passes and more teams start to lose this part of their history, more changes will be made.