Monday, July 23, 2018
  • The Heater
  • Marc Topkin

Jones: Last thing Chief Wahoo needs is a farewell tour

Finally, the Cleveland Indians are getting it.

They've seen the error of their ways. They've realized that their logo — the ridiculously cartoonish caricature of a Native American called Chief Wahoo — is insensitive and racist.

It needs to go. And, doggone it, the Indians are going to see to it that it does.

In a year.

Sort of.

I'll give you a few seconds to clean up the coffee you just spit out all over the floor.

This story still doesn't make complete sense. On one hand, you want to applaud the Indians for taking steps to get rid of this divisive emblem. Then again, they aren't really getting rid of it. Not completely.

The more you dig into this story, the more if feels like the Indians are making matters worse by really not doing much at all.

Removing the logo from the uniforms won't happen until 2019, meaning the Indians are effectively turning 2018 into the Year of Chief Wahoo.

Just wait and see. The stands will be full of Chief Wahoo shirts this season. In fact, this will renew interest in Chief Wahoo. I expect the Indians to actually profit more than originally planned from the sale of Wahoo shirts.

There will be signs and protests. And the debate between those who want to see logo go away and those who want it to stay will grow nastier and more frequent.

As the Indians try to phase out Chief Wahoo, he will become more visible than ever.

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There was going to be backlash no matter what, but it seems like the Indians are pulling off this Band-aid ever so slowly, making it way more painful than just ripping it off.

There's more. While the logo won't be present on their uniforms or official signs inside Progressive Field starting next year, fans will be able to continue buying Chief Wahoo merchandise inside the stadium and throughout northeast Ohio. The Indians and Major League Baseball say that by maintaining the trademark, the team retains control of the logo and prevents someone else from using it.

In other words, if someone is going to profit off this prejudiced emblem, it's going to be the Indians.

The Indians are trying to have the best of both worlds. They're acting like they're the good guys, taking the moral high ground by removing something that offends so many. Yet, they are trying not to anger fans who have grown attached to the emblem, which has been associated with the team in some form or another since 1948.

But here's the thing: you can't be a little bit racist. You either are or you are not. And Chief Wahoo is a racist symbol.

It's like the Indians are telling Native Americans: "See, we heard you and we're sorry, and it'll never happen again."

Then they're turning to their fans, winking and saying, "Don't worry. Nothing's changing."

By continuing to sell Chief Wahoo merchandise inside the stadium, you're still saying the logo is okay even if it's no longer on your uniforms. You're still keeping Chief Wahoo alive and well, maybe even more than before.

And, the worst part of it, you're making money off of it.

It's a hollow gesture.

If it's offensive enough to take off your uniforms, it's offensive enough not to sell or permit into your ballpark.

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Why are we still talking about this? Just get rid of the darn thing.

I'm sure Cleveland fans will tell me that this is political correctness run amok. What's next, they ask, are we going to get rid of Cardinals emblems because it might offend birds? But come on, you are either lying or being naive, dumb or blinded by loyalty if you don't understand why the Chief Wahoo logo is wrong.

It's not about being politically correct. It's about being correct, period.

Does Chief Wahoo personally offend me? The answer to that doesn't matter.

There are thousands upon thousands of Native Americans who are offended and insulted and degraded by the emblem. I'll defer to them on what's offensive.

It's time to get rid of the logo once and for all and for good.

Then we can back to work on getting rid of the most racist name in sports: the Washington Redskins.