The Cleveland Indians’ controversial logo will stop appearing on the team’s uniforms at the start of the 2019 season.
This decision – much like the logo itself – still causes controversy. For many Cleveland fans, Chief Wahoo has become an endearing symbol. However, many find the icon to be racist, insensitive and disrespectful, and it is hard to challenge those claims.
Just look at the logo: a face with crimson skin and a protruding nose, with a solid red feather sticking out of the top of his head. This the textbook definition of a stereotypical and offensive caricature of a Native American.
The logo has no place in baseball. The Indians as an organization have already begun moving away from utilizing Chief Wahoo, switching the cap logo from the mascot to a block-letter C in 2013. The team has acknowledged that Chief Wahoo is offensive and the decision to phase it out of the uniforms was bound to happen after the cap logo switch.
The decision to keep the logo for one more season, however, is somewhat puzzling. If the organization finally acknowledged that a change needs to be made and to get rid of the logo completely, why not enforce it at the start of this season? If this decision was instead reached in July 2018, when the season would already be in full swing, that would have been a bit more logical to wait until the next year to abandon the logo. However, it is late-January and Cleveland has plenty of time before the start of the season.
This move is at least a step in the right direction. Although it will not happen this year, a racially insensitive logo is being removed from baseball and major league sports.
It was acknowledged by both MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and the Indians’ chairman Paul Dolan that the logo is no longer appropriate. They understand the racism towards Native Americans present in the Chief Wahoo logo and that there is no room for it in a professional sport.
Eyes now turn to the Washington Redskins. If Chief Wahoo has been removed for being racist, then it is hard to argue that a team whose name is a racial slur should not at least be examined.
Yet much like with the Indians’ logo, there will be plenty of push-back from Redskins fans about a name change. Still, their arguments will likely not prevail now that there is legitimate and recent precedent for the removal of racially insensitive subject matter from a professional sports team.
There is no downside in the removal of Chief Wahoo. It is blatantly racist, and the fans, owners and MLB know it. Native American organizations have protested the logo for decades and it was already on its way out of the Indians’ organization. Racism in professional sports has been slowly fading away, but there is still work to be done. The removal of this logo is simply a logical step.
Matt Lapolla is a broadcasting major from Union, N.J. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MatthewLapolla.