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6.26.2014

Chief Concerns: Wahoo's Time May Be Winding Down

Nino Colla | Thursday, June 26, 2014 | | | Best Blogger Tips

It seems pretty silly to have last posted some weird Unimpressed Kluber memes and now follow things up with a serious post about the latest with the Chief Wahoo business, but that's kind of where I am at right now.

In case you have yet to catch it, the Native American's (or at least a group representing them, better yet, a guy representing a group called "People Not Mascots") are suing in the Indians. Well, the Cleveland Indians. Not themselves. That would be counter-productive.

For Nine...Billion...Dollars.

You read that. Yes that's a nine as the highest single digit number and yes that's a B for billion, not million, billion. The lawsuit, or at least all I can glean from the CBS story, is against the Indians for their offensive logo, Chief Wahoo. It doesn't appear as if it is against the Indians in name or anything like that, but it very well could be. It certainly isn't a federal trademark denial like the Washington Redskins are going through.

But this seems really significant in the grand scheme of offensive sports names, logos, and mascots.

I might be skipping dangerously close to politics here. If you think this is a political debate. It isn't. I don't follow politics, nor do I care to engage in discussion about them. In fact, that is primarily my reasoning behind my stance. Baseball isn't politics. So let's get the politics out of baseball. Let's just worry about the on-the-field stuff. Your baseball team is your baseball team. What they wear on their hat should be secondary to everything else in regards to where they play and how they play.

The timing of it seems really sketchy in my mind. Granted, no lawsuit has been filed yet and there is no telling if they actually will, but when did this group decide they were going to do it? Right after the trademark news broke? They say the plan is to file in late July, which is about a month away.

If this just came out, obviously then, I don't think timing would be much of a question.

But the timing of it screams money grab or an attention ploy. If not a money grab, looking to piggyback off the national attention the Redskins trademark news has garnered. If that is the case, good for the group and the people bring forth the suit on their timing. It will do what they want.

The timing feels stenchy though because you are talking about a large sum of money, and that's what seems like the money grab part of it. Of course, no court would award this group $9 billion dollars because a logo is deemed racist or offensive. That is just asanine in the highest sense of the word. In fact, the whole idea of a lawsuit seems silly, but you can sue for anything now. And sometimes, if its for enough money, you have to take a suit seriously. It could create significant movement on this Chief Wahoo front or it could all just be talk. Ultimately though, I just have to wonder, why a lawsuit and why now? Is this about money and attention or the spirit of a group of people? 

It has to be attention and perhaps some money. Why else would they be bringing a lawsuit? Okay, perhaps they figure there has been no movement in other any avenue, and now seeing what is happening with the Redskins, there may be legal action that can be taken.

But against the Cleveland Indians? And for $9 billion dollars?

I'm not siding with the "Wahoo Club" or the people that are STAUNCHLY in favor of keeping Chief Wahoo around. That isn't my angle, as you will soon see. But I can't get behind the Native American group filing a lawsuit, especially one as aggressive as the one they are planning, with this kind of timing in place. I think it just adds to the animosity of the situation. It creates more dissonance between the two sides. The Indians haven't been like Dan Snyder, completely opposed to changing anything and everything about the franchise. Creating enemies and portraying himself as a bull-headed billionaire that could give a damn about the feelings of anyone.

Again, this isn't going to be a promo for the Wahoo Club or the "people that like it" in regards to Chief Wahoo. I don't agree that it is a "disservice" to people who enjoy the logo like they claim. If getting rid of a logo is a disservice to you, perhaps you figure out what the meaning of the word disservice is, see an ACTUAL disservice in action, and then re-evaluate your word choice.

Native Americans, as a whole, find the logo offensive. Point blank. There is no factual argument that you can bring to the table to counter that. Supporters for the Chief Wahoo logo, to the exteremes at least, need to move over to the year 2014. 

I don't think the name Cleveland Indians is going anywhere. Don't doubt for one second that the Indians brass and ownership would ever plan to change their identity in that regard unless they had to. The Atlanta Braves are still the Atlanta Braves, the Kansas City Chiefs are still the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Cleveland Indians are still and will still be the Cleveland Indians. The term Indians doesn't seem to create as much animosity as the image of Chief Wahoo does. I certainly think it may rub some Native American's the wrong way, but I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that it is then represented by something they find offensive.

You don't see anyone breaking down the Chiefs or Braves doors and that's because their logos are not offensive. What happened the minute it leaked that the Braves (Barves) may be bringing back the screaming native on their batting pratice cap? Outrage.

Chief Wahoo, the red-faced wide-smiling Indian is offensive to a group of people.

So, sorry to the people who "like it" but, it has to go. Whether you "like it" is not up for debate. You can like it, but that doesn't mean the Indians franchise has to use it to represent their baseball team. And slowly, over the past few years, the Indians have done a masterful job of phasing out Chief Wahoo. 

And I think if it was up to them, they'd continue to do so, until you just didn't notice it anymore. At least, most of us. Of course we'd notice, and maybe a day or two of talk would ignite if they officially did not use it in any sort of form, on the uniform, on any merchandise, or promotional iteams. But it wouldn't be an uproar. If anything, and this may not be popular to say, and you may not agree with it, but the franchise has perhaps been an ally in the Native American groups that protest the logo. 

Unfortunately, that masterful and tactful plan to remove Chief Wahoo may not see itself through. Because this lawsuit may just force the franchise's hand. They certainly don't HAVE to get rid of it. They are a privately owned company, able to do as they please. But the Indians have made sure to not create waves quite like Dan Snyder has. The lawsuit doesn't stand any ground, but it may be the tipping point where the team fosters goodwill and just puts an end to the logo.

They may have to cause a little rift with the few fans who are still rallying around Wahoo. But really, what piece of the club does Wahoo even remain on? The road cap? Jersey sleeve? Some gear and apparel? Not much at all, and certainly not on any promotional items that the club promotes.

Wahoo lovers have plenty of stuff over the years that they can hold onto and cherish. They can wear the shirts and hats they bought and like the memorabila that they have. But it cannot and should not be used going further. And save tradition talks, even in baseball. Teams change their logo all the time and move foward. The Indians wouldn't be the first and will not be the last. Chief Wahoo offends people, so let's put it to bed. It doesn't matter if YOU don't like the Block C, it doesn't offend a race of people.

At the end of the day, what is Chief Wahoo doing other than being a logo of a team? Is he adding any value to this franchise? With that being the case, what is the primary over-bearing reason for keeping him around? Tradition? I hate to be the one to stomp around with the "tradition went out the window when they instituted the DH rule" argument, but uh, that's kind of true. As I mentioned earlier, teams change their logos all the time. Some even change their colors. Chief Wahoo will always be part of the Indians history, but let's go ahead and leave it there, in the past.

You can also save the "well then, where does it stop" type arguments as well. Because it stops here, at Chief Wahoo. Because that is what is offensive. This will not create a open gate situation, it will simply end decades of debate that has ranged from mild, to moderate, to eventually full-blown $9 billion dollar lawsuit level.

Even though that lawsuit is completely ridiculous and in my mind, goes against the spirit of what the group is fighting for. Really? A lawsuit? I get it, I don't even want to pretend I know what they are fighting for. But really? The argument they've brought forth seemed like it had spirit and sense behind it and they were coming from a place where they really feel slighted. Adding money to the equation seems to take a lot of the sympathy away.

At the end of my day, I could care less about the logo. It's a logo. I'm a baseball fan primarily and care more about the product on the field rather than the logo the team is wearing on the cap. I actually like Block C and that is my right. I'm not saying you can't like Chief Wahoo either.

But it is offensive to a race. If someone went around calling you a name related to your race, and you didn't like it, wouldn't you expect someone to stick up for you? Instead of embracing it and parading it around? Let's be a little more sensative here. Is it giving in? Maybe it is, but so what? They wouldn't be fighting so hard to get rid of something if they didn't feel like it insulted their heritage.

The Cleveland Indians are a baseball team. They play baseball. They are not set up to entertain you via pictures of their mascot. No one is opposing them about playing baseball, so let's stop the foolishness and move on from this entire thing and take the franchise out of the limelight in regards to this issue.

This all being said, it is time to get back to baseball. And the next post will be just about that...Baseball.

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