Chief Wahoo, A Symbol of Shame

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What does a sports logo represent? To fans the logo of their favorite team is a point of extreme pride, something they wear on jerseys and hats, and when people see you wearing the logo, they know with which team your allegiance lies. However, in recent years there has been a debate that asks the question: at what point does a logo stop representing pride and instead represent racism and shame?

One logo in particular has been at the center of much controversy, Chief Wahoo of the Cleveland Indians. The Chief Wahoo logo is a bright red Indian head, with big triangular shaped eyes, a large nose, and a red feather sticking up from the back of his head. The logo is considered by many to be racist, and Native American advocates have called for the Indians to abandon the logo. Major League Baseball agreed that players should no longer wear the logo during games, and last week the Indians announced they would no longer use Chief Wahoo during games, starting in 2019.

In the days since the decision was released to the public, the Indians have received credit for finally giving in, and making a move that they had publically refused to for years. However, they have also received a great deal of criticism for waiting until 2019 to remove the logo from on field use. They have also been criticized for continuing to sell merchandise depicting Chief Wahoo in the foreseeable future, not stopping this season or in 2019.

The Indians have been extremely reluctant to change the logo for years, and seem to have only given into the pressure by Major League Baseball due to the fact they will be hosting the 2019 All Star Game. Many advocate groups have expressed the desire for the Indians to change the logo immediately, before the start of the 2018 season.

This is an argument that I believe is very valid, if Chief Wahoo is perceived as too racist or offensive to be worn on the field in 2019, what makes it alright to use the logo in the upcoming 2018 season? In recent years, the Indians have developed a logo that is a block red “C” and there is no reason that they should not use it exclusively starting on opening day in 2018. Additionally, I believe it is unethical to advertise the logo in the team store and on your website, if you have stated that it is no longer appropriate to wear during games.

A former Indian player, Jim Thome, who is being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer, requested that the hat he will be wearing on his plaque, have the “C” on it, instead of the Chief Wahoo that he wore during his playing days. This further shows the desire for those associated with the organization wanting to distance themselves from the logo, yet for seemingly financial reasons, the Indians do not.

The Cleveland Indians are a historic Major League Baseball team, dating back to 1901; they have had a proud history of winning two World Series and six American League Pennants. It is a real shame to see such an organization profiting off of racism and putting money first, not caring who they offend.

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Evan Rose
Evan is from Watertown Massachusetts. He transferred into NEC starting in the spring of 2018. Evan is studying towards being a sportswriter. He writes about baseball and other sports issues. Evan is scheduled to graduate from NEC in 2020.