Smith: The problem with Cleveland’s baseball team

Kevin Smith, Social Media Editor

I am an avid Cleveland sports fan, and have been so for as long as I can remember. As a Clevelander, I was brought into the sports culture of the city at a young age. Anyone who knows anything about Cleveland knows one thing: We are extremely supportive of our professional sports teams, win or lose.

But what happens when it isn’t about wins or losses?

Sometimes, this support can cause fault. Instead of acknowledging problems, we tend to become extremely defensive of ours teams and our city. I believe this is what happened in the case of the Cleveland Indians logo, Chief Wahoo.

The name of the team is not a dictionary defined racial slur like the Washington Redskins, but the secondary logo is a different story. For all of you who have been able to avoid seeing Chief Wahoo, the cartoon logo depicts a Native American man as bright red with a wide grin and a feather in his hair.

This past April, the franchise demoted Chief Wahoo from being the primary logo to secondary status, taking a backseat to the block “C.” For the most part, the Cleveland Indians gear available for purchase reflects this change.

Not entirely, however. Chief Wahoo still remains on their jerseys and hats during game days. The Indians still make a profit off of a very ugly racial caricature.

Chief Wahoo doesn’t stay solely as a logo either. It creates a culture that enables fans to wear redface and headdresses, fostering an environment that is completely devoid of racial empathy to fellow Americans.

It’s embarrassing to have such a racially offensive caricature associated with the team, and in turn, the city.

We should not defend the use of Chief Wahoo. Cleveland does not need to perpetuate such racism against Native Americans, nor should we feel obligated to support the team’s racial insensitivity simply because they are located in the city. The city of Cleveland can do better. Our franchise can do better than that. There are many options for a logo, mascot or team name that do not involve such controversies.

There’s not an argument to be had in favor of keeping the logo. Chief Wahoo has nothing to do with the team’s history, and is not mentioned once in the 5,600 word team history dating back over 110 years ago.

Would Cleveland fans stop rooting for the baseball team without Chief Wahoo? After all we’ve been through with our sports teams, is that going to be the event that causes us to waver? No? So, what’s the hold up? Get rid of it.
KJ is a third year student who wants to make a difference in the city of Cleveland.