RIP the Cleveland Indians and Chief Wahoo


A new age is dawning, clearly. The Cleveland Indians have won their third Major League Baseball World Series. First time was 1920; second time 1948. (World Series losses in 1954, 1995 and 1997 now seem but bad memories.)

Time to celebrate.

And the Cleveland Indians might best celebrate by turning over a new leaf and shedding their name and logo. No team starting up in 2016 would call itself the Indians – or the Chinese or the Puerto Ricans or the Koreans or the Mexicans or the Arabs. Or Chinamen or Pakis or Degos?   Or, well, you get the picture.

Why not bring back the Cleveland Spiders – the 1889-1899 name of the Cleveland baseball team — that is not harmful to modern-day Native Americans?

The Cleveland Spiders baseball team could have a spider logo. Think of the merchandizing gold mine, bringing out in time for the April start of the 2017 season Spider caps and Spider jerseys and spider T-shirts.

No team should any more keep the Indians’ Chief Wahoo logo still gracing some of the team’s caps and jerseys. A logo picturing a toothy, red-skinned Indian with single-feathered headgear. Time to retire that stereotypical, offensive logo.

But what if Indians management decides to keep the name and logo? What should the media to do?

In past years the Portland Oregonian and Minneapolis Star-Tribune axed for a while the Indians nickname from their sports pages, along with Chiefs, Braves and Redskins. Some fans protested dropping these nicknames, but most did not. And none of these teams folded. All still thrive.

Isn’t it time for the sports media to unite and say such names – and some related logos – simply are inappropriate in the 21st century? The Society for Professional Journalists advises in its ethics code that journalists balance seeking and reporting the truth with minimizing harm.   Until or unless the Cleveland baseball franchise axes the nickname Indians, sports media could simply – and accurately – call it the Cleveland Baseball Team. Accurate, truthful and harm minimized.

Many American Indians object to a modern-day team calling itself the Indians. Shouldn’t that justify the media no longer using such a nickname? After all, in a year where a low-budget professional baseball team from Cleveland defies the odds and improbably wins it all, any thing is – and should be – possible. Even retiring the Indians name.

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