Are Cleveland Indians right to change team name to Guardians?
In changing the team name to the Guardians, the Cleveland Baseball team has hit an absolute home run. Anyone who has driven over the Hope Memorial Bridge from the West Side of Cleveland has seen the iconic statues, known as the Guardians of Traffic, and they are a much-loved feature of the city. The new name is uniquely local, something most franchises can't claim.
The Cleveland Indians have been known as such for well over one hundred years; it's time to leave this racially insensitive name and the much-loved but clumsy caricature of a Native American known as Chief Wahoo behind. Team owner Paul Dolan explained how the nationwide racial reckoning touched off by the murder of George Floyd spurred the team to action, and rightly so. The term 'Indians' has its roots in Christopher Columbus and carries with it the legacy of colonialism. Also, the stereotypes that so-called Indians are 'fierce' or 'warriors' are great for sports teams but offensive for the real people related to those tribes.
The Cleveland Guardians have exhibited great leadership in changing their name. The fact that a major sports franchise, whose logo is internationally recognizable, can examine the way it stereotypes and offends is a good lesson for fans of the team and major league baseball in general. Seeing such a high-profile organization go through this process reminds us that we can all check ourselves for biases and be more thoughtful with how we behave toward those who might be different from ourselves. It is highly commendable that the team will undergo this change, and the example they have set will undoubtedly reverberate through the community and beyond.
In 2016, a Washington Post poll found that only one out of every ten Native Americans were offended by the name 'Washington Redskins.' The numbers backed up a 2004 Annenberg poll that showed the same result—Native Americans are not bothered by sports team names that refer to their ethnicity.
Despite the polling, the DC football franchise ditched their name and became the Washington Football Team. And it seems the same fate has befallen the once-known Cleveland Indians, who have changed their name to the Cleveland Guardians following the end of the 2021 season.
The name change is disrespectful to the fans and the franchise, which has had the 'Indians' moniker since 1915. The origin of the name is disputed, but most historians believe it was either to honor Louis Sockalexis—the first Native American to make it to the major leagues—or as a play on the Boston Braves, which were the best team in baseball at the time. Either way, the name was never meant to be racist or offensive.
The wokeification of sports is destructive and bad for business. The 2021 All-Star Game should have been one of the most-watched in league history with players like Fernando Tatis Jr., Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Shohei Ohtani—the first player to start as a pitcher and hitter in a Midsummer Classic since Babe Ruth—filling the rosters, not to mention the lack of an All-Star Game last year. Instead, the ratings were abysmal with a mere 8.24 million viewers, making it the second least-watched All-Star Game in league history, only ahead of the 2019 game.
- On Friday, July 23, 2021, Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team announced their name change from Indians to Guardians ending a “months long” discussion over the alleged racist logo. The name “Indians” dates back to 1915.
- The name change was inspired by the eight stone traffic guardians that border the ends of Hope Memorial Bridge. Team owner, Paul Dolan, said, “There’s no question that it’s a strong nod to [the landmarks] and what they mean to the community.”
- Some of the public criticize the name as a “disgrace” and destruction of “heritage and culture” along with former President Trump.
- The trademark logo of Chief Wahoo was discontinued for Indian player jerseys and caps in 2018, but has continued to be sold to the public.