The Cleveland Indians have been contending with controversy over their name and logo for a very long time, and it might be time for them to call it quits and make a change. They wouldn’t be the first professional sports to survive a change in their name, and it isn’t like it would affect the betting odds or anything.
It isn’t surprising that the Indians have resisted change for so long. Most people tend to cling to tradition, but eventually, even franchises like the Redskins and the Braves will have little choice but to move with the times.
Before 1997, the Washington Wizards were known as the Bullets; in an attempt to avoid the association with gun violence, they became the “Wizards”. Certainly, there are still fans who wear the old ‘Bullets’ jersey, but, overall, the Wizards managed to successfully transition into the new brand.
Cleveland is bound to buckle under all the pressure which has been mounting in recent times. Many broadcasters and announcers have refused to use the term ‘Indians’ because they think it is offensive.
And Cleveland is not the only one feeling this wave of pressure. The calls to change their name have been coming for years. It has become the norm for demonstrators to congregate at home openers to make their voices on the issue heard. More than just the name, the Mascot, Chief Wahoo, has supposedly proven to be even more offensive to certain circles of society.
Cleveland is still standing its ground; while saying that they are sensitive to the opinions of all sides, they haven’t given any sign that they are planning to rebrand. Whether or not you agree with their stance, Cleveland can rebrand if they so wish it.
It is all a matter of exerting the necessary political will. And the movement against their name and mascot is only going to grow with time. People like Activist Niigaan Sinclair have exerted effort to have headdresses banned at Chicago Blackhawk games in Winnipeg.
According to Sinclair, not only will the Indians eventually rebrand, regardless of what they think, but it is only rational, seeing as the name ‘Indians’ is associated with violence and hatred.
And that is where all this hullaballoo is coming from, the idea that some of these words are not only inappropriate and offensive but that they have too much historical baggage weighing them down.
Because the term ‘Indians’ has been used in a demeaning manner in the past, activists do not think it acceptable for professional teams to use them, not in a commercial manner.
It should be noted that rebranding isn’t a simple matter of changing a few banners in a few locations. If the Indians decided to change their name, they would have to spend millions of dollars to do so. And generating a new equally viable brand would prove to be just as expensive.
Not that the Indians would go bankrupt in the process; but it would definitely take a lot of political will and financial resources to completely change everything that used to define them and through which fans have identified them for decades.