“Social justice” seems to be taking over professional sports. For the past year, kneeling protests of the American flag and national anthem have dominated NFL headlines — and now it’s major league baseball’s turn to enter the fray.
America’s pastime has been fairly well removed from public controversy, but political correctness just struck MLB. After years of liberal hand-wringing, the Cleveland Indians baseball team has given into demands and will retire the iconic Native American logo from their uniforms next year.
“The Cleveland Indians will remove the grinning ‘Chief Wahoo’ logo from their uniforms beginning in the 2019 season, the baseball team said on Monday, in a bow to critics who have long assailed the image as a racist Native American caricature,” Reuters reported.
“The decision, which could raise pressure on other US sports teams to abandon similar imagery, came after a year of discussions between the Indians and Major League Baseball, the governing organisation led by Commissioner Rob Manfred,” continued the report.
While that decision is being celebrated as a “win” for social activists, it will likely be seen as disappointing for many fans who are used to cheering for the smiling Indian character, which has been associated with the team since 1947.
Managers from the Cleveland Indians acknowledged the history of the mascot, but stated that they were sticking with their decision.
“While we recognize many of our fans have a longstanding attachment to Chief Wahoo, I‘m ultimately in agreement with Commissioner Manfred’s desire to remove the logo from our uniforms in 2019,” Cleveland Indians owner Paul Dolan explained.
There’s also the pesky fact that nobody was actually being oppressed by a logo on sports uniforms. When a similar controversy erupted over the Washington Redskins name and logo, actual Native Americans stunned liberals by revealing that they weren’t so offended after all.
“Nine in 10 Native Americans say they are not offended by the Washington Redskins name, according to a new Washington Post poll that shows how few ordinary Indians have been persuaded by a national movement to change the football team’s moniker,” reported that newspaper last year.
“Among the Native Americans reached over a five-month period ending in April, more than 7 in 10 said they did not feel the word ‘Redskin’ was disrespectful to Indians,” continued the Washington Post. “An even higher number — 8 in 10 — said they would not be offended if a non-native called them that name.”
There do not appear to be any large-scale polls asking similar questions about the Cleveland Indians, but if 80 percent of authentic Native Americans aren’t offended by being called “redskins,” it’s a reasonable presumption that the number of Indians losing sleep over Chief Wahoo is probably exaggerated.
A domino effect may now follow the Cleveland decision, and a long list of beloved team mascots may be on the chopping block.
“MLB’s Atlanta Braves, the National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks and the National Football League’s Washington Redskins and Kansas City Chiefs have faced similar criticism, but the Washington franchise has become the most visible target,” explained Reuters.
Add college teams to that list as well: The Florida Seminoles, Central Michigan Chippewas, and San Diego State Aztecs could be next in line for scrutiny.
In truth, the world is not going to come to a screeching halt if the Cleveland mascot is retired. The fact of the matter is that it was a team decision, and if they determined that it was the best move to distance themselves from the classic logo, professional sports are not going to come to an end.
The problem, however, is the slippery slope: Where is the line? Sport is supposed to be recreation and entertainment, where people could forget about politics and political correctness for a few hours to watch or participate in a game of skill.
Instead, controversies like the NFL kneeling and MLB mascots are injecting politics where they don’t belong. In an era where everybody is “offended” by something, there doesn’t seem to be an end to perpetual outrage.
At some point, we need to shelve the social justice crusading and just get back to baseball. Not losing our minds over a cartoon mascot might be a start.
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