Opinion: Long live Chief Wahoo

Growing up an hour south of Cleveland, Ohio, I was raised a Cleveland sports fan.

I don’t remember much of my childhood but what I do remember is watching Cleveland Indians baseball at my grandpa and grandma’s house with my family. I never thought about the logo until I was older but all I knew was that I loved my Cleveland Indians. Particularly, Chief Wahoo.

Starting in the 2019 season, the Cleveland Indians will not wear the iconic Chief Wahoo on their jerseys anymore. I disagree with this decision.

Now, I understand that there are some Native American people who are offended about their heritage being used for a game, but I personally think people have overreacted to the situation. We have become a society where we get offended by every little thing. The fact of the matter is, I don’t think this is a situation where people use the logo in an offensive manner.

In fact, the logo for the Cleveland Indians was a way to honor a star player for the franchise named Louis Sockalexis, who was of Native American heritage.

Sports are a way of bringing people together.

The idea for the logo and the name was never to offend a group of people. It is to honor them and to have a team brand that supporters can rally around. The Cleveland Indians aren’t the only teams to be named after a historic group of individuals. There’s the Florida State Seminoles, the Washington Redskins and the Chicago Blackhawks, to name a few.

The naming of sport team mascots and logos are not intended to be offensive. Most of the times, teams aim to have a logo that looks cool, interesting and fits well with most fans. While there are many teams that have mixed responses about mascots or logos, the Cleveland Indians logo has been changed over time and adored and loved by most Cleveland fans.

I don’t see Chief Wahoo as an offensive figure.

When I look at Chief Wahoo, I don’t imagine all Native Americans to look like him. The logo has been around for over 80 years. It isn’t a way for people to poke fun at or ridicule people of the heritage. While there might be some Native Americans who are offended by the logo, there could be some who don’t. Have we asked all of them?  

This is sports. Not politics. Fans of Cleveland Indians love Chief Wahoo. He is an iconic piece of Cleveland sports history. They don’t look at him as sign of disrespect towards Native American people. They look at him with smiles and cheers, and I personally don’t see the point of removing a logo that has been around for a significant period of time just because people have become overly sensitive in this day in age.

I don’t think we should look into sport teams logos as a way to point out things that are offensive. Now logos such as the swastika and those associated with the KKK are ones you can definitely point out as offensive and disgusting logos and should not be used today.

The point is these are sports logos and they don’t stand for hate and oppression. They stand for fun, enjoyment and the love of the game.

No matter what you do, the Cleveland Indians will always be the Cleveland Indians.

You can’t take that away from the fans because it’s their team and that’s who they love. Even if they take Chief Wahoo off the uniforms, they can’t take the beloved Chief Wahoo out of the hearts of fans.

Long live Chief Wahoo.

About the author

Colton Steiner

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