On Tuesday, MLB announced that the Cleveland Indians will remove and separate itself from their logo of a racially insensitive caricature of a Native American.
Since 1948, the Indians’ jerseys, ball caps and merchandise were branded with a wide-smiling, stereotypical American Indian known as Chief Wahoo. Starting in 2014, the Indians reduced the use of the old logo. By next season, the infamous red-skinned logo will be gone and replaced with a bold “C” to represent the city of Cleveland.
While the symbol is important to the franchise’s history, they will continue to sell merchandise with the old logo at the team’s store and around northern Ohio, but the MLB will not sell anything with the logo on the league’s online store. The old logo will also not be used on official game jerseys and outerwear or used for promotional use in or outside the Progressive Field, which is where they play.
This is a great step in the right direction for the world of sports. Baseball is a sport that included many different races and ethnicities and having the players play under a racist logo would only be a detriment to the sport. Now that the official emblem for Cleveland’s baseball team is represented with a “C,” it should only bring the city closer together with its baseball team.
There are many reasons why it took this long to change the logo. Two seasons ago, the Indians went to the World Series and lost to the Chicago Cubs. Having an offensive representation of an American Indian on an international broadcast would only turn viewers away from the game. The Indians are also a great team in the American League’s Central Division and a playoff team last year. If they continued their success with that old logo, it would hurt the MLB in terms of viewers and advertisers.
Teams like the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Redskins, and the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks also have names or logos used that represent the Native American community.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ logo is an arrowhead with the letters “KC” on it. There are similarities between Native American culture and the logo as well as the team’s name. The name comes from former Mayor H. Roe Bartle, who was nicknamed “Chief” due to his involvement with the Boy Scouts of America. While the name might not be intentionally based on Native American culture, fans go to games dressed as Native Americans and that is where they cross the line.
The Chicago Blackhawks’ logo is a Native American’s head, too. While it is not Chief Wahoo, it still is a caricature of an American Indian. The Blackhawks are also a very good team in the NHL, so it would make sense that a team with this kind of a name would get that kind of press as well. It is once again the fans’ fault for this unnecessary flack the Blackhawks get, as the team does not involve stereotypical American Indian culture within their agenda.
Our very own college also has a history with their sports teams and having a racially offensive name. Back in the ’40s and ’50s, Montclair State competed as the Indians before they changed their name in the ’60s to what we are called today. Our logos for the teams were Native American chiefs wearing headdresses.
While the Cleveland Indians have taken a big step in the right direction by getting rid of Chief Wahoo, there is still a lot of work to be done for all of the sports to realize that they hurt a community more than they bring one together with racially offensive names and logos.