The outcry over the use of names such as the Redskins in professional sports has not diminished in the past few months. Just last week it was revealed that two Congressmen have written letters to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell urging Goodell and the league to take a formal stance against the Redskins and support a name change, from the controversial Redskins moniker. There seems to be no rest, and the issue will likely plague the team for years to come as owner Dan Snyder has continued to make it clear that there are no plans to change the name.
Here in Cleveland, however, the swing in public opinion and the wave of political correctness have claimed its first victim—well, sort of. While Case Western Reserve University students were still at home enjoying the final days of break and the rest of the baseball world was working on signing and trading to put a team on the field, the Indians front office made a subtle, but possibly important move. The Cleveland Indians have demoted Chief Wahoo, the iconic smiling Indians logo, to a secondary logo, making the simple “block C” the official team icon.
The change comes following a poll of the local fan base last fall by the front office in the wake of the Redskins controversy. However, do not expect the sudden disappearance of the Chief, as he will still be on both the home and away jersey—although only as a patch on the sleeve. Visually the demotion is not a huge change, Chief Wahoo will still be seen all around the stadium, both on the field and in the shops. The real implication of the change is the subtle movement toward possibly phasing out Chief Wahoo.
The front office has not, and likely will not, come out and definitively cut the Chief Wahoo logo in the near future. They do not want to alienate the dedicated fan base. However, by making subtle changes, the organization is able to appeal to both camps: those for and against the logo. The team has actually been making adjustments for seasons. Many have noted the lack of Chief Wahoo during spring training, both on the uniforms and facilities. These subtle changes are a way for the Indians to stay out of the public spotlight, unlike the Redskins.
This officially announced change likely will not have any prominent impact this season or in coming years. However, it again begs the question of what role the Cleveland community feels that political correctness should dictate, a debate that will continue arise for years to come.