Cultural appropriation has long been a part of professional sports in America and it’s perhaps never more striking than when the topic of Native American mascots comes up. The Washington Redskins and their problematic name with dubious origins have been at the forefront of the discussion for some time now, but lurking just beyond that is the looming decision on what to do about the Cleveland Indians and Cheif Wahoo.
If it were up to Major League Baseball, the logo, a caricature of a red-faced Native American, would be long gone. They were seemingly making headway on that before last season when the Indians made a run to the World Series and interest in the logo peaked once more. Since then, it seems like the discussion between the franchise and the league has sputtered.
Team owner Paul Dolan recently spoke with 1590 WAKR’s Ray Horner as part of their speaker series and admitted that the two sides don’t appear to be close to a resolution on the issue.
“We’re not exactly aligned on its future. But we will come to some understanding some time relatively soon, meaning before the start of the 2018 season and maybe sooner than that.”
The unsaid implication is the financial impact that the club would have to take on lost revenue from using the logo. With the 2019 All-Star Game coming to Cleveland, it’s presumed that commissioner Rob Manfred has a bit of leverage in reminding the team’s ownership that there’s a bigger picture to worry about.
Dolan went on to say he understands how longtime Indians fans see the issue and how that differs from a national perspective.
“There’s a lot of pressure on the national scene. We may live in a little bit of a bubble in terms of how we see Chief Wahoo and if you didn’t grow up here with it and you don’t have that emotional attachment and you look at it more objectively, you can see reason why some might offended by it. And the commissioner is feeling that pressure.
“Frankly, we were—are—on a path towards further mitigating the use of it, trying to find the right balance. We are Clevelanders. We have that relationship with Chief Wahoo that so many do, but we’re empathetic to those who find some reason to be offended by it. But at the core, we do think there’s some validity to that.”
We’ll see what eventually happens but the assumption remains that Chief Wahoo will go away, at least officially, but not before the Indians have some form of compensation, whatever that looks like.