In a statement from Major League Baseball’s PR division, the Cleveland professional baseball team announced they would be de-emphasizing their long-time logo and mascot, Native American caricature Chief Wahoo.
The de-emphasizing will begin at the start of the 2019 season. In the statement, commissioner Rob Manfred said the out-dated and racist logo was “no longer appropriate for use on the field.”
For their part, Cleveland’s owner Paul Dolan acknowledged the need for change. “While we recognize many of our fans have a longstanding attachment to Chief Wahoo, I’m ultimately in agreement with Commissioner Manfred’s desire to remove the logo from our uniforms in 2019.”
This is a good start, but as some have pointed out, the gesture feels disingenuous. Bomani Jones of ESPN said in a tweet that the team’s continued ownership of the Chief Wahoo trademark is problematic in itself. The team will maintain a retail presence in order to retain the trademark, meaning the logo, too vulgar for the field, will still be printed on t-shirts and sold in the stadium.
It’s worth mentioning that the team name itself needs changing. Cleveland’s baseball team calls themselves the Indians, another antiquated and racially insensitive term. Hopefully, the removal of Chief Wahoo will begin the transition to a new team name, though their retention of the trademark seems to indicate they will not be doing that anytime soon.