Cleveland Changes Mascot Amid Controversy

Vanessa Zuleta

Tyler Bollinger, Staff Writer

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Across America people are crazed by sports. Whether it’s football, baseball, basketball, or any other national sport, fans associate themselves with their favorite teams and players. However, there are some teams whose names and mascots strike controversy every year. One of the most recent is the Cleveland Indians.

When the team was established in 1894, their name didn’t carry the same weight as it does today. Referring to Native Americans as “Indians” is something that has been frowned upon for decades now. Along with the name of the team’s mascot, Chief Wahoo. Designed in 1946, Chief Wahoo is an offensive depiction of a smiling Native American man with a prominent nose and feather in his hair.

Figures like these are popular in sports. Mascots are cartoonish characters whose purpose is to boost the morale of the fans and create excitement for the game. However, what happens when one of these friendly faces offends an entire race of people? Apparently, not much.

This isn’t the first time a sports team has played a part in the conversation surrounding political correctness. The Washington Redskins’ name has been seen as offensive toward Native Americans for decades, but it gained direct attention from the media and country as a whole in 2013. Although there was an outrage against the team, there were little repercussions due to the team’s owners, management, the NFL Commissioner and fans stating that the name celebrates Native Americans rather than mocking them. Whichever way you look at the controversy around the Redskins, Indians or other sports institutions deemed offensive, someone could be insulted.

For almost a decade our society has undergone changes that lead to the promotion of political correctness. Increased sensitivity serves the purpose of making everyone feel comfortable and not harassed or offended. The intentions are good and political correctness is a healthy way for society to mature, but the counterargument is that if we remain sensitive to every little thing that causes others discomfort, we are taking away freedom of speech from others. Political correctness has its place but should not take over every action we make. I see it limiting us and how we express ourselves but in public cases like with the Cleveland Indians, it is necessary for improvement.

Because the Cleveland Indians are an institution that provides entertainment for the public they should abide by the people’s wishes and make considerable changes to their brand. They can do this and at the same time appeal to fans that favor the status quo. The use of Chief Wahoo isn’t attacking Native American people directly and for that reason, we shouldn’t crucify the Cleveland Indians for using him all these years.

After much debate, the Cleveland Indians are altering themselves to appeal to fans. Starting 2019, Chief Wahoo will be removed from uniforms and not sold on merchandise. He will be replaced by a block letter ‘C’. As for the team name, it will remain the same.

Whatever your stance is on the issue the organization has made an attempt to please both sides. The removal of the image that has offended many was long overdue. From this point on, we can expect to see political correctness grow in the public as it has for the past several years.

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