Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has spoken for quite some time of his desire to talk with the Cleveland Indians about their controversial Chief Wahoo logo. He has never drawn a real line in the sand, revealing his personal position on the matter, until now.
Manfred communicated his position and intent via a statement from MLB spokesman Pat Courtney, to the New York Times. According to the Times, “…Pat Courtney, a spokesman for Major League Baseball, said Manfred, in his talks with the Indians’ owners, had made clear his ‘desire to transition away from the Chief Wahoo logo. We have specific steps in an identified process and are making progress,’ Courtney added. ‘We are confident that a positive resolution will be reached that will be good for the game and the club.’”
Interesting that Manfred did not tell us those “specific steps,” an indication that the issue will not resolve soon.
The bigger question is, why have team mascots, specifically Native American team mascots, become such an issue?
Of all the most allegedly offensive mascots in sports today, certainly the Redskins and Indians would be on that list, putting aside the fact that 90% of Native Americans don’t find the term “Redskin” offensive. But, when was the last time you heard anyone referred to as a “Redskin,” outside of the people who actually play football for the team?
You don’t hear it, because the word has been reduced to a sports term, and a sports term only. When have you ever seen Chief Wahoo, or a similar-type drawing used in a derogatory way towards Native Americans? Again, you don’t.
If team mascots like the Redskins and Chief Wahoo were getting used by racists to shame and denigrate Native Americans, then one could understand Commissioner Manfred’s quest to get rid of that logo. Yet, if Chief Wahoo and the Redskins are limited to only a sports context and not for the spread of racism, then who’s really being offended? And honestly, who really cares?
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn