A Canadian court recently denied an injunction to bar the use of the Cleveland Indians name and Chief Wahoo logo in Canada during the ALCS.
The Cleveland Indians are up 3-1 over the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALCS, but some news surrounding the organization’s name was back in the news earlier this week.
An injunction was sought to bar the use of the “Indians” name and the use of the “Chief Wahoo” logo during the games in Canada. While it ended up being denied, it did bring up the issue of the use of the name and logo once again.
First, let’s talk about the timing. It is rather suspect to seek this injunction during the middle of the ALCS, as it could easily have been done during the regular season or at any point throughout the year. Obviously, the Indians being on a grand stage in the ALCS brings the issue to the forefront, but it seemed to be a move made to affect the players who have nothing to do with the existence of the name.
But on to the name and the logo. The fact the team uses a name and logo that can be challenged in a court is not ideal. It seems so easy to name a sports team after literally anything other than a group of people, yet the Indians still feature a name that can be considered offensive to Native Americans, especially with the use of the “Chief Wahoo” logo.
It is a name that carries a century of tradition, although that does not necessarily mean it should stick around. With issues like this, the organization should make a real effort to open up a serious dialogue with those who find it offensive, which in this case is certain members of the Native American community, along with individuals of many backgrounds who support a change.
This would give those in charge an idea of why it upsets others, without just claiming its tradition and fighting against even considering a change, which is what the Washington Redskins organization seems to be doing.
There is a group of fans who are fine with a change and just want the team to win, and there are others who would be furious if the team changed its name, citing the idea of tradition. We are not here to say one side is right or wrong, but fans must remember that society is bigger than baseball. There are groups out there who have dealt with terrible oppression. So the least a professional sports team could do is pick a harmless name and get the focus back to the game on the field.