The Cleveland Indians’ return to the World Series has brought renewed attention to the team’s Chief Wahoo logo, a cartoon caricature that many Native Americans have sought to change for decades.
Not long ago, the team itself said it would phase out the use of the logo, but it has been ubiquitous on Cleveland’s hats and uniforms during the postseason.
That could change soon, as MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said Wednesday that he would sit down with Cleveland owner Paul Dolan after the season to discuss the logo, which he admitted “is offensive to some people.”
“I know that that particular logo is offensive to some people, and all of us at Major League Baseball understand why,” Manfred said at the Hank Aaron Award ceremony in Cleveland. “Logos are, however, primarily a local matter. The local club makes decisions about its logos. Fans get attached to logos. They become part of a team’s history. So it’s not easy as coming to the conclusion and realizing that the logo is offensive to some segment.”
“I’ve talked to Mr. Dolan about this issue,” he continued, via the New York Post. “We’ve agreed away from the World Series at an appropriate time we will have a conversation about this. I want to understand fully what his view is, and we’ll go from there. At this point in this context, I’m just not prepared to say more.”
Multiple Cleveland fans have been spotted wearing red-face and feathered headdresses during the first two games of the World Series, drawing attention to the controversy over the logo’s continued use leads to further inappropriate caricatures of Native Americans. Protesters, meanwhile, have gathered outside Progressive Field in Cleveland to demand the team quit using it.
Manfred, at least, appears to be listening to those who want the logo changed.
But the issue isn’t nearly as complex as Manfred suggests it is, even if he’s only trying to be diplomatic before sitting down with Dolan. Over the last four decades, hundreds if not thousands of high schools, universities, and even pro sports teams have changed such mascots to avoid the legitimate negative psychological and sociological effects they have on Native American communities. It’s actually not that hard to choose logos and mascots that don’t have a detrimental effect on anyone.