I’m feeling feisty. Potentially dangerous. Time to poke that bear.

I can’t swim, but I am going to attempt to wade into some treacherous waters concerning that growing elephant that is starting to outgrow its room. And it’s really starting to bug me, sooooooooooooooooooooo…

Straight off of the top, personally, I could not care less about the whole controversy. But I admit that I’m not sure what that says about me. The Chief Wahoo logo been around for my entire life. So have other various Native American-based team names that encompass the sports landscape. I just don’t find these things worth complaining about.* There are bigger fish to fry in this world than pure marketing.

It does seem that the Indians have been trying to covertly minimize Chief Wahoo’s visibility in recent years, though. The Solid C caps are becoming more and more popular (which, in my opinion, just look cooler anyway, but that’s beside the point) as well as various uniform changes that render the now-infamous logo almost to a compete afterthought; effectively replacing him with script-I’s or solid block lettering, only to eventually see him smiling wide but hidden away on the player’s shoulder opposite of the camera’s view.

But I see it prominently being a sore topic for many people. It causes people to loathe teams simply because of the character. They don’t care about “hating” another team for the traditional reasons. They hate your team because of a logo. Wish I could find that tweet sent to me a year ago. Even to this day, I think of the complete absurdity of this Royals fan’s reasoning. Hate for a division rival? Completely understandable and encouraged. Loathing certain players? Completely understandable and encouraged. Hating a team for a logo? It’s possible, I guess, but it takes some seriously strenuous explaining on the other person’s part. And with many naysayers not knowing or understanding the historical relevance, they fight for something they don’t understand.

I’ve been accused of spinning in the past. (And the opposition doesn’t? Hmm…) Maybe I am. Meh.

When a team’s laundry/logo/mascot takes precedence over all other tangible baseball-related things for you, and you feel it’s your duty to inform me of all of these cosmetic wrongs, I will check out. At best, I might surreptitiously shake my head. If you scream loud enough, it usually results in continuous head-meet-desk. And I still have the bruises to prove it. I might even troll you back with the same amount of vigor. So bear this in mind.

And then, there is this. A call to action from players. A plea to take a stand against something that seems so insignificant. (Although it is a cause that holds far more weight than David Price’s stand for keeping his facial hair. A potential $300 million contract? I’d wax my whole body with a smile of my face. Anyhoo…) All this stirring of the proverbial pot, masquerading as a challenge for the so-called “greater good.” The constantly quotable Nick Swisher somehow managed to zip his lips and walk away.

It’s time to get over it. Call me blind. Call me ignorant. I just might be. But seeing how our little corner of the internet is respectfully in honor of the Indian who gave the team its current namesake, it’s just foolish to put serious effort in complaining against history that isn’t excessive, nor is it harmful. It’s not intended to be taken as a personal affront. Besides, seeing as I lose all sense of masculinity if and when Spiders are involved, you’re darn right I’d choose a grinning native American over an eight-legged terrorspawn from the lowest and darkest caves of hell.

People need to recalibrate their priorities. And if fighting tooth and nail for a logo(s) is on your list of things of making the game of baseball better, then you’re in for a long and difficult journey. One that has no true victor and exists without an endgame other than a total re-branding; which has about as much of a chance as David Price holding firm on his aforementioned Beard Crusade.

As for me, until and unless they tell me otherwise, I will wear Chief Wahoo proudly. Call me insensitive if you must. It’s my team.

————-

*I am all over the geological map. I hold no full-blooded nationality other than American. You call me a mutt, and I will bark.

 

40 Comments

  • Ross says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Politically correct BS drives me nuts. That NY Daily News article is such a farce. I’m all for players speaking up on important issues; this clearly isn’t one of them.

  • medfest says:

    I concur,wholeheartedly.

  • nikki says:

    I agree! It’s issues like these that make me think of the Ben Franklin quote: “Sin is not harmful because it is forbidden, but it is forbidden because it is hurtful.”

    Without context, I can see why Chief Wahoo could be considered a racist logo. It’s a goofy caricature that, at first glance, seems to make light of what has historically been a very painful past for Native Americans.

    But when you look at the logo within the context of the history of the state of Ohio and of the team (and that of Louis Sockalexis as well), it’s clear that the name wasn’t taken with any intention of disrespect in mind.

    Insensitive? Sure, probably at least a bit. Hurtful? I’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who successfully makes that argument.

  • Swift says:

    I’m going to disagree a little.

    Are there bigger issues in the world, for both everyone and for Native Americans – absolutely. But so what – do we have to solve all the big problems before we take care of other things (like the Indians winning a World Series)?

    It is really time for the Chief to go. I’m not saying burn him, I’m not saying ban fans from wearing him. The old neon chief from the old stadium still deserves a place in our history and in a museum. And I am absolutely not saying change the team’s name.

    But the Chief’s time is past. Ignoring everything else, it just looks kind of old and old-fashioned, and not in a tradtional-baseball-history sort of way.

    But the bottom line is that it is a racist logo, with or without context. I don’t see how anyone can say otherwise. I don’t think anyone intended anything hurtful, either back when it was created or now, but there are people who are hurt by it. And maybe people want to dismiss hurt feelings as politically correct BS, but I would have to disagree.

    And no, I’m not a Native American; I’m a 50ish white male, who has lived in Cleveland for over 25 years.

    I’ll also add one thing… I travel around the country quite a lot, and particularly out West, I never wear anything with Chief Wahoo. Frankly, I’d be hard pressed to explain my wearing it to an actual Native American.

  • joey says:

    i like wahoo.the c on the hat is boring.i think most of these haters dont mind the wahoo,its that they dont like his skin being red.maybe we can still keep him but change his skin color to blue or white.he just needs a face lift thats all.

  • Drew says:

    As I sit at my desk wearing a Cleveland Indians shirt with Chief Wahoo on it, I can’t help but consider myself a hypocrite. I identify myself as a Cleveland Indians fan and never think of it as being distasteful but I do recognize that an improvement is needed and would support an effort to re-brand the team, I just do not want to put in any effort to actually re-brand the team. I’d probably only go as far as voting in an online-poll sponsored by the front office if such a re-branding campaign was launched. So does that make me the worst kind of person because I recognize that it could be hurtful, bu then still support the team anyway?

  • John says:

    As a lifelong Tribe fan who is also a mutt, I find it fascinating, with due respect, how supporters of retaining the Indians nickname emphasize that “it’s just a nickname,” “it isn’t important,” “it isn’t worth complaining about,” etc.

    Because the exact same thing can be said in the other direction, to those who oppose the idea of changing the nickname. It’s just a nickname. Are you really going to stop rooting for your team if it changes its nickname? Really? The real fans of baseball and NE Ohio-based teams will root for the Cleveland franchise, regardless of its nickname. After all, the nickname “isn’t important” and “isn’t worth complaining about,” right?

    If anyone can cite a contemporary (i.e. 1915) source that connected the Indians nickname to Louis Sockalexis, some readers might be interested in seeing the citation. By more recent accounts, the Sockalexis story is a myth that emerged much later, and the primary support in 1915 for adopting the Indians nickname was actually to piggyback on the Boston Braves, which had won the World Series in 1914, when their nickname was relatively new at the time.

    Chief Wahoo aside, the franchise hasn’t won a World Series since 1948. Taking inspiration from the excellent recent article by another writer in this blog, about Bill Veeck’s 1949 funeral for the pennant, what better way to embrace the history of the franchise could there be than to conjure up a comparable Veeck-like stunt, now? Why not bury the “Indians” nickname, and try our luck with a new one? Bring some fun back into the game, as Veeck used to do. After all, it’s only a nickname. Right?

  • Faz says:

    Yeah, it’s, uh, my team too. You can’t shut out dissent that easily.

    The logo is grotesque and offensive. It needs to go. I say this as someone who grew up drawing it in his school books. It’s still the only thing I know how to draw.

    First, you’re conflating the logo with the team name. The logo is a helluva lot worse than the team name. The team name isn’t great, either, but it’s a lot better than the Redskins, at least.

    Think about whether, if we were holding a contest today to pick a new name for a new team, you would think “the Indians,” represented by Chief Wahoo, was a good choice. I think that a lot of the defenders of the current name and logo wouldn’t choose them under those circumstances. Without tradition behind them, what affirmative value would the name and logo have? And even if the fans voted for it, management would veto it. Too insensitive, too inaccurate historically-speaking, too grotesque a figure with which to “honor” a subjugated and still terribly disadvantaged people.

    So you’ve got tradition. Yeah, you’ve got that. Of course, back in the 40′s, when the logo came about, it was tradition to call African-Americans, well, you know. Tradition doesn’t get you very far.

    • joey says:

      wow,lighten up,life will be much more enjoyable,its a freakin caricature!

      • Faz says:

        What a profound response! “Lighten up!” Well, I stand corrected.

        • joey says:

          im sure i have more intillect on sports and northeast ohio than u might believe. nice reply from u. just try to belittle someone who tells u to lighten up! i dont know u but i bet u dont smile,laff much.

  • joey says:

    take a look at the reds new batting practice caps for this year. the caricature is all white(i like them)…maybe if we made chief wahoo all white like that,then those people who think its racist,will just think its a cool/cute logo…i would rather change the color then lose him altogether.

  • joey says:

    when i was a kid. i played on a all-star traveling ice hockey team named the cleveland americans.are colors were red white and blue. just like the cleveland indians. go figure. do u think if the indians changed their nickname to the americans and kept chief wahoo as their logo,would people throw a fit and cry racist,or without the feather, even relize that hes an indian? not if u took the chief outta his name. he would just be a cool/cute caracture representing the cleveland americans.for all those who think chief wahoo is racist. life is short,too short to live with anger,and hate. hes just a fun cartoon logo that the majority of northeast ohio has come to love. just enjoy it. dont try to take yet another thing from us long suffering fans.

  • Jay says:

    In response to the question in your headline, no he is not.

  • Sean Porter says:

    Since the overwhelming sentiment seems to be “Stop being so sensitive!”, allow me to play devil’s advocate…

    1. I would like you to imagine, for a second, that the Cleveland American League baseball team was not called the “Indians”. Instead, the team that plays at Progressive Field was called the Cleveland “Negroes”. And on the Negroes jersey was their mascot, oh let’s just call him “Uncle Tom”. Imagine that the mascot looked like what you’d expect a caricature of a black man would look like if it was drawn by a white man two or three generations ago. (Anyone remember what ANY black person looked like in old Tom and Jerry cartoons?) Would you still be ok with this?

    2. The idea that the Indians were named for Louis Sockalexis is most likely revisionist history. Sockalexis was a player on (I believe) the Cleveland Spiders roughly 20 years before the Indians went from being the “Naps” to the “Indians”, and he was only around for a few seasons. When the Naps changed their name to the Indians in 1915, there was nary a word about Sockalexis. While nowhere as sentimental, or romantic, our favorite baseball team was most likely named the Indians not out of respect for a long-gone player, but out of a search for a proverbial “rabbit’s foot”.

    In 1914, the Boston BRAVES were mired in last place on Memorial Day, until they went on fire for the rest of the season to win the N.L. pennant, and then shock the world as big underdogs and also win the World Series. That offseason, with Napoleon Lajoie no longer with the Cleveland club, the team’s front office needed a new nickname. Hoping to ride the “Miracle Braves” karma train, the Naps became the Indians.

    Sometime later, almost out of nowhere, the legend that the Indians were named after Sockalexis started to appear. It sounds great, sounds dignified, and eventually the story became “fact”.

    • joey says:

      that black man about 3 generations ago that ur talkin about is the chicago blackhawks jersey…check it out. anyway the chief wahoo logo and the blackhawks logo are well respected and loved by their fans. im sorry but its comical to me that people cant see it that way. this is not 1950 anymore. we have an african american president now,wich means most people rnt racist. they love and respect it. its the racist people that have the feelings of this issue that keep bringing it up. get over it. chief wahoo is just a well respected cool/cute cartoon that the majority of people like…maybe u people should go take this issue up in chicago,or washington.but leave us clevelanders alone!

      • Sean Porter says:

        Um, isn’t the Chicago Blackhawks logo a Native American?

      • Jeremy C says:

        Obama was elected so “most people arent racist”? that may be the stupidest thing ive ever read on this blog. It is a caricature depicting a native american as RED. having RED skin. That a racial stereotype. The nose is giant and it has a comical look to it. This is not an indearing picture. This is a group of people. You have to be so blind to see that chief wahoo (not the name indians) is racially insensitive.

  • Mary Jo says:

    IMO people choose to be offended. I’m Polish and old, having grown up during the era of many derogatory nicknames for groups of people. Those whom I know who were not offended by “racist” nicknames had very positive senses of self-worth. One of my (black) coworkers and I made a great game of passing jokes back and forth, using either “Polack” or “Black/black dude” as the subject depending on who was passing the joke on to whom. Neither of us was either offended or mad. Then “Political Correctness” came about and we’re all supposed to be offended by at least one thing.

    The writer of the linked “there is this” article never points out the equally “offensive” racial slurs of either the name of the Washington Redskins or the obvious race-baiting hatchet image of the tomahawk-chopping Atlanta Braves, so I’ll take his article as just one more New Yawker’s slam against Cleveland.

    Finally, the best take I’ve read on this subject recently was an Esquire column by native Clevelander and Esquire editor Scott Raab written in the first person of Chief Wahoo. If you would like to read Raab’s column you can find it here: http://www.esquire.com/features/chief-wahoo-cleveland-indians-0113

    • joey says:

      that was a nice read…hope they dont protest nachos tho…i love them more than chief wahoo lol.

  • DP Roberts says:

    To me, Chief Wahoo is like not showering every day.

    Someone’s smell is relatively unimportant. Most of us like people who are kind, considerate, intelligent, witty, lovable, imaginative, hard working, etc. We’d probably rather work with a colleague who was all of these things, but smelled a little bad, than to work with someone who smelled like fresh flowers but was an obnoxious jerk.

    Chief Wahoo is like that. Many people, myself included, like the Indians, but put up with Chief Wahoo, in the same way that we put up with not-so-fresh colleagues. Sure, some of you will say “employees should be judged by their skills, and not their body odor,” and you have a point. But the issue just isn’t going to go away, and Chief Wahoo, like stale sweat, is easy to remove.

    As others have mentioned, no one is going to stop being an Indians fan just because the Indians get rid of Chief Wahoo. So, clean up the image a little bit by getting rid of him, and move on.

    Chief Wahoo just doesn’t pass the smell test.

  • Chris Burnham says:

    Interesting thoughts, y’all! Thanks for sharing. :-)

  • Mike Murphy says:

    I truly believe that the Indians are consciously de-emphasizing Chief Wahoo, and have for the past several years. I believe it is also a deliberately slow process on their part, but it may well be time for him to go.

    When I was in Goodyear for spring training three years ago, I was told by an Indians official that they try to wear the logo as little as possible in Arizona, out of respect for the Native Americans out there. It makes some sense, but I think the team will be completely Wahoo-free in a few years.

    • joey says:

      yep,sure seems that way. another mistake on their part,their so dumb. if ur gonna take it away,dont give us a boring c,or a i…or no names on the back of jerseys…the fo has no style…take the feather on chief wahoos head and make it an i. mix it with a cool c. kinda like the ny on the yanks cap,but we could have a ci in feather letters. wheres the creativity? boring,boring,boring!

  • RJ says:

    Thought provoking article that will hopefully promote intelligent dialogue. While I disagree with your conclusion I can appreciate the discourse.

    While a majority of your readers may not be offended by the Indian logo I don’t feel as if it is our place (our meaning non Native Americans) to determine whether we find the logo offensive. There are a great deal of Native Americans who find the logo offensive and they have valid reason to feel that way.

    As someone whose people have been reduced to rather offensive caricatures in this country I can sympathize with the Native Americans & would not feel comfortable telling a Native American they should get over it because those in the “majority” deem it just a logo, or as over sensitive to take offense. When what some deem small things are swept under the rug they soon become large things.

  • Jeremy C says:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/playbook/fandom/post/_/id/18144/native-americans-speak-on-sports-imagery

    Read this story. Native Americans find Chief Wahoo racist. The caricature itself is comparable to the racist caricatures done of other races in the past. His skin is Red. Not tan or darker, red. That is a terrible racial stereotype that has to be done away with

    • Steve Alex says:

      Repeating yourself three times does not make you more correct. In this hyper-sensitive era of minority rule and political correctness, it is true that people choose to be offended by things in order to create division and disparity where none actually exists. The question is not whether we should name a new team the Indians today. The question is whether we should rename a team that has existed for over a century and was named during a different era and has a lot of history attached to it of some value. Regardless of what the answer to that question is, it is important to at least identify the right question. You don’t rewrite history just because the world has changed.

      • Jeremy C says:

        So civil rights laws should never have been passed? Slavery should have never ended? Just because something was regarded as okay for a time doesnt mean it should be automatically accepted now. You dont rewrite history but when you see that something has been wrong for a long time and you have a chance to change it, you should. The reason were in this “hyper-sensitive era” is because we are slowly starting to realize… wait a second we have been an extremely racist and bigoted country for about 200 years maybe we should change that a little. I dont care about the name. But you can not say that just because chief wahoo has been around for 50 years it makes it okay.

        • Steve Alex says:

          You make some good points, and I’m glad you responded. Personally, I like Chief Wahoo. I do not believe that he is or ever was intended to be an offensive charicature, any more than a pirate or a raider or other depictions of human form in sports logos that are necessarily exaggerated to emphasize the strength or fearsomeness they represent. You don’t see butterflies and hummingbirds on team hats and helmets for a reason: they are not intimidating. If anyone believed that native Americans were weak or stupid or anything negative, no one would have wanted them as their team mascot. There is some inherent risk in using a human form as opposed to a bird or animal as your team logo, because people will always disagree on what it represents and whether it does so fairly. As long as Chief Wahoo remains, there will be controversy. I just don’t think that’s a bad thing.

  • Jeremy C says:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/10856/cap-week-time-to-retire-chief-wahoo

    And heres another great article written by a writer of this very blog

  • Dylan says:

    I always like the image of Chief Wahoo but I do recognize that it is a bit racist. I bought several shirts at the team shop while at a game there in 2008 with the logos from the 50′s and 60′s and those were much more exaggerated and offensive. I doubt I could even find those shirts again from the team. While they have downplayed the logo in the last few years I wish they would either decide to keep the logo and modify the skin tone or just change the name. Unlike the author I would prefer the Spiders as I think that could be a much better logo to develop. At least they can market something besides a block ‘C’ or script ‘I’.

  • Joe B. says:

    Hail to the Chief!!!

  • SeattleStu says:

    good grief….let me guess that the number of people of color / american indians speaking out on this blog is close to zero….liberal outrage run amok…pffff.

    let’s see –
    * Royals – isn’t this really an anti-democratic endorsement of progeny’s fortune?…how many millions have met their demise under the edict of kings?
    * Yankees – anti-northerner, hearkening back to a painful period of America’s history. Banish it!
    * Athletics – why must we all be athletic? look at colon for goodness sake – he cant possibly feel good about having that moniker strewn across his chest (or at least the h-l-e-t-i part; the rest tucks under his armpits)
    * Rangers – you think those racist texans ever took any native Mexicans out? if not, read your history kids.
    * Padres – they no longer wear robes clasped with ropes, nor are they all folically challenged…cant you feel the discrimination?
    * Brewers – why in this day and age are we glorifying the creators of alcoholic beverages? to say nothing of the drowning risk run by Bernie on his daily descent into the homer suds! is there a trial attorney in the house?!? MADD alert.
    * Reds – hey McCarthy-ites, lighten up!
    * Angels – why must religious people continue to press their values upon us? we all know that angels are a fiction of deluded dreamers uncomfortable with death. Embrace secularism for goodness sake.
    * Tigers – anyone ever notice how vicious the mascot depcition appears? i dont think tigers in the wild look like this. Perhaps the rapacious Caucausion assault on our rain forests is to blame for that surly disposition.
    * Braves – the only thing worse than Indians in general is lowlighting the bottom class in the tribal hierarchy, the brave. One lone feather reflects racism at its basest. Shame, Atlantans!
    * Pirates – should we make light of suffering at the hands of bloodthirsty pirates? Nay, jolly roger! Rape, pillaging, theft and intoxication are not to be celebrated in the modern era. To say nothing of the negative nod to our Somali brethren.

    Love you all, and can’t wait for the season.

    In the bonds I remain –
    SSH

    P.S. Jiminez is still a bust

  • Peter says:

    Chief Wahoo and I will remain inseparable. Let’s talk about it after Washington gets rid of the Redskins and my alma mater, Miami also drops their beloved mascot… OK, let’s focus on Washington!

  • joey says:

    hey jack(thats what uncle cy says)…duck dynasty is on in 10 mins. u know the men that r proud to be called RED NECKS,cuz thats the skin color of their necks…geez i love that show…lighten up and be an american JACK!LOL

  • joey says:

    yep,like honey boo boo says,u beter redneckinize!

  • Eric says:

    This is why the Indians will never win another World Series.

    Have fun rooting for your racist logo permanently in last place.