Cleveland is Guarding the Fans from Memories


The Cleveland Indians, an MLB team that has been around for a century just changed its name to the Guardians before the 2022 season. The historic franchise has been using the name, Indians, since 1914. Chief Wahoo, a caricature of a Native American, was  a Cleveland icon since its introduction in 1951. He can be spotted on the hat and sleeves of the uniforms most recently from the 2018 season (which was the last year he appeared until discontinuation). Although the name and caricatures that go along with the Indians seem harmless, the franchise was pressured into changing the name to the Guardians in order to please the commissioner and the public who felt that it was racist towards the Native American population. The definition of racism has become cloudy during this generation but according to Oxford Languages, racism can be defined as prejudice against or antagonistic toward a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.

The change was made due to the fact that some of the Native American populations felt that they were being stereotyped with using the name Indians, but many other groups like the idea of having a team named after their heritage. The Cleveland Indians name never changed before and there are several other team names that are still in the same category of supposed racism. These teams include; the Kansas City Chiefs, the Atlanta Braves, the Black Hawks, and the Florida Seminoles. None of these teams have made a name change which makes it seem odd that if the people of the public truly cared about racist names they would have changed all of the names. In reality, these team names aren’t even racist because if one uses the definition above these teams don’t fall into this category. This just shows that the various Native American activist groups don’t really care about progression towards a non-racist world, but really just a mask to put themselves behind to make them seem progressive.

Although Native Americans were mistreated in our past, using their name in big brand sports names nowadays shows that we are including them in our history, rather than putting them in the side-view mirror. During this day and age there are progressivists that believe they are helping the cause by eliminating the past’s problems, but in reality are just making it worse.

via AP News

The commissioner of baseball gets payed over $10 million and if the MLB was truly wanting to bring awareness to the Native American population, they would take some money out of their paychecks and educate the public by purchasing and distributing books on Native American heritage. Changing a name won’t cause people to take a stand as much as it will just enrage the Cleveland faithful. 

One of the main reasons why the protestors wanted to make a change to the Cleveland Indian brand was because Chief Wahoo. According to SBNATION it was said that Chief Wahoo “remained the most stereotypical depiction of Native Americans in sports, and with backlash mounting against the Washington Football Team, Cleveland began phasing out use of the logo.” Which can be understandable, but the team took out the logo, so why did they have to take the name too. Those who opposed Chief Wahoo were not against the name of the team nearly as much. The team even used jerseys without the name Indians, just Cleveland across the chest.

The goal for the supporters of changing the name of the Indians to the Guardians is moral superiority. They want to create this picture that cheering for the Indians (a racist team name) is actually degrading their population. Many believe, however, that cheering for the name makes it better than eliminating the name because it shows that the crowd is supporting a team that represents not only America’s heritage through baseball, but the heritage of Native Americans. Native Americans were strong warriors doing whatever it took to win, and the Cleveland Indians showed that through baseball for decades. 

In addition, take the NBA, NFL, and MLB for example, they all brought awareness to the BLM movement which was widely accepted and praised by the public. The NBA had messages on the court and on the jerseys, and the NFL and MLB had them on the field. However, not even two years later there is barely anything on the fields or courts. What does this mean? Is racism solved? It’s not, it was just the leagues using the sponsors for their money and using the groups as a way to show their moral superiority.

via Jason Miller/Getty Images

Cleveland fans are also torn on the name change with most of them believing that the change wasn’t needed and now the team’s history seems forgotten. A tweet was sent out regarding the name change and 45% believed that the team will always be the Indians to them. Only 30% said that they liked the name change, as well as 25% feeling indifferent about it. This shows that the fan base would have rather just let it be than change it for the minority.

One fan stated on the tweet, “I travel a lot for my job and have worked with Native Americans and have asked what they think of it and they love the Tribe [Indians]. When is this country going to stop caving into the few?” Another fan stated, “So sad. A lifetime of memories, gone. I will follow the team, but my heart isn’t in it.” The name change has proven to make most fans not feel as connected to the franchise as they did before. Many of the fans grew up watching the Indians and can’t imagine turning on the television and seeing the name ‘Guardians’ across the screen. 

All in all, the name change was unneeded. Many of the fanbase felt that it was just the commission caving into the new culture of today due to his fear of losing his job and by doing so, he has stolen all fans from future memories with the historic name. People also need to remember that these are sports names and not in any way meant to be interpreted as anything else, but this era has shown that most things have to become political and personal. Going forward the Cleveland faithful will still watch their team, but there will always be that empty feeling.