BY JOHN FELTMAN
It’s become quite apparent that our country has become more sensitive to political and social issues throughout our country as the years have passed. And now, it is beginning to leak into the sports universe.
The Cleveland Indians announced on Monday that they will retire longtime mascot Chief Wahoo at the close of the 2018 season. Chief Wahoo has been the Indians’ mascot since 1947. He is a red, jolly and big-toothed Native American with a single feather in his headdress. Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred and Cleveland Indians owner Paul Dolan made the decision.
“Major League Baseball is committed to building a culture of diversity and inclusion throughout the game,” Manfred said in a statement.
Fans will still be able to purchase Chief Wahoo team memorabilia, as well as wear caps or shirts with the mascot represented to any of the team’s home games. The only thing being banned is Chief Wahoo’s logo on all Indians uniforms.
I understand how this could be offensive to some people, and that our country is more sensitive than it’s ever been, but this is an absolute joke. Chief Wahoo does not represent any sorts of disrespect towards Native American people. He is simply just a professional baseball team’s mascot, and a mascot who has become so iconic over the years. He is not meant to offend anybody, and personally I think he shouldn’t.
The Indians arose from the grave in the mid 1990’s, and made its first appearance in the World Series in 1997 since 1954. Chief Wahoo was a huge apart of the team, as he still is, and the fans throughout this time period.
Today, I know Harry Doyle, Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn, and Jake Taylor are truly upset and disappointed about this decision (if you’re a baseball fan, hopefully you picked up this movie reference). A cartoon mascot, a FICTIONAL character should not be taken away from the Indians. And, if you are going to ban the logo in its entirety, why not start this year? These speculations and rumors have been swirling around long enough as is, and to prolong this type of ban just makes this even more ridiculous.
If you’re going to ban something, ban it immediately. It’s almost as MLB and the Cleveland Indians want their fans to purchase Chief Wahoo based merchandise in order to protest the ban. Say it with me kids: Everything on this Earth will always revert back to the magic dollar bill. The logic behind this ban is still very mystifying to me.
The logo isn’t just a logo or a mascot; he represents the team and the entire city of Cleveland. When people think about Cleveland sports, the first thoughts into their brains are LeBron James, Jim Brown, and Chief Wahoo.
When I was a kid, I used to own a Chief Wahoo Indians fitted baseball cap. I’m not even an Indians fan, but I thought the logo (I still stand by this statement) was so unique and cool. It was imperative of me to own one. I love the movie Major League, (for those who didn’t get the movie reference earlier I just spoiled it) and when I think of Chief Wahoo I just imagine a rockin’ loud Progressive Field.
Clearly, there are a lot of people who are disappointed that this logo will be disappearing at the conclusion of this season, and I am sure I am not the only person pissed off about it. I just feel terrible for Indians fans; this really is a kick in the balls.
This is almost as bad as Sesame Street replacing Cookie Monster with Veggie Monster. When I was five years old, I wanted to eat cookies, not vegetables. Again, I understand why this change was made and America as a whole is very obese, but these are kids were talking about for crying out loud. When I watch an Indians game, I want to see Chief Wahoo on my screen. He’s become a part of the city of Cleveland and the Indians baseball culture.
Maybe one day Chief Wahoo will come back, but as of right now it looks like the Washington Redskins logo could be next to be axed. At this point, players should just begin wearing trash bags as uniforms because everything today “offends” and upsets individuals in society. He isn’t a racist people; he is the Cleveland Indians mascot.
John Feltman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org