The Cleveland Guardians changed their name after intense pressure from Native American activist groups several years ago. Formerly known as the ‘Indians,’ the Guardians have maintained their identity since then with little issue. One of the team’s minority owners sent a clear message this week about how he thinks the name change has resonated with fans.
Matt Kaulig, the owner of the Kaulig Racing NASCAR team, has a minority stake in the Guardians. Kaulig said in a recent interview that he approves of the new name and thinks that fans have taken well to it.
“I actually like the Guardians name now,” Kaulig said via Fox News. “At first, everybody resists change anyway. Anything that changes — if I change my name — it would be hard to get used to.”
Kaulig credited the team’s on-field success for being a key reason why fans warmed up to the new name.
“I think a key to them last year was they were good. If they would’ve changed the name to Guardians and had a bad season, I think you would’ve lost a lot of fans. You would’ve lost a lot of Indians fans. You would’ve lost a lot of Cleveland Fans. But they didn’t. I think they’ve gained a bunch of fans by performing well,” Kaulig said.
Kaulig is part of an investment group that owns a 25-30 percent stake in the Guardians. He is right that the on-field success certainly plays a role in fan morale, though it’s true that anyone sensible would know that a team being bad has nothing to do with their name. But, Kaulig comes from a good place here, so his comments are on point.