Chief Wahoo Doesn’t Rock Cleveland Anymore

Major League Baseball has announced that the Cleveland Indians will eliminate their logo Chief Wahoo for the 2019 season. Chief Wahoo first appeared on their uniforms in 1948 and has changed his appearance several times. He is a cartoon like Native American character which they’ll begin to remove from their uniform sleeves and caps along with signage at Progressive Field.

The Commissioner, Rob Manfred has been working with Cleveland’s owner since he took office in 2015.  Manfred has been open about wanting to get rid of the offensive logo.  Major League Baseball and team ownership agreed the popular symbol was no longer appropriate for on field use.  There is a growing pressure in leagues from the NFL to college sports to eliminate these types of names and mascots from being used.   The Indians have already integrated the block like C logo(seen below) into some of their uniforms and ballpark signage. 

My own Alma Mater Florida State University went through with the NCAA in 2005.  FSU landed themselves on the hostile and abusive list.  The NCAA cited 19 schools that had native American names, mascots and/or logos stating that they would be banned from using them in post-season play, and prohibited from hosting tournaments.  Florida State was granted a waiver from the NCAA based upon the principle of Tribal Sovereignty.  The Seminole Tribe of Florida supports the University and the use of its mascot Chief Osceola.

I can see both sides of this argument.  I would have been completely crushed if my Florida State Seminoles became something like the FSU Sandcrabs.  I’m nostalgic and grew up attending games with Chief Osceola never actually considering it was negative or offensive.  I think having something mandated to the team would have been extremely frustrating to the fans.  If the league or the ruling body gives you a time frame and are willing to work with the team to find solutions, it’s an easier transition for the team and its fan base.   I understand how some of these logos can be outdated and racist today.

The Indians will continue to keep their name and just change their logo.  The Indians are also going to retain their trademark of the logo.   By them retaining the trademark it keeps the logo out of the hands of others for future use.  The Indians will still sell items with the Chief Wahoo logo in the Cleveland area.  Cleveland will also be the host to the 2019 All Star Game next July.