With TMZ reporting today that the Washington Redskins may soon find themselves getting a ruling from the United States supreme court regarding defamation of race, I cannot help but wonder what sort of watershed event this could be for other teams throughout sports. Being a fan of Cleveland teams, the one that obviously jumps out is the mascot of the Cleveland Indians, Chief Wahoo.
The team has slowly started to migrate away from Wahoo, despite the constant reminders that it is not phasing him out. Consider it more of an introductory phase of other logos, says Paul Dolan. And while Wahoo is still (proudly?) displayed in Winter Haven, Florida – mostly due to cost reasons, the new spring training facility in Goodyear, Arizona is littered with the script letter “I” that can be found on alternative jersey hats and soft pretzels alike.
When the Indians found themselves one game away from the World Series in 2007, they also found themselves in the spotlight once again thanks to facepaint and things of that ilk. Surely, there are more socially acceptable ways to enjoy a game than with redface but I would say the same if one of the bird-related teams had fans that were painting beaks on to their mugs. And while a bad season has slowly quieted those that complain for the sake of complaining, a Supreme Court case could quickly escalate the situation all over again.
I realize that simply because something does not offend me personally (as very, very few things do), that does not make it right. However, the fan in me has a hard time letting go of a nostalgic piece of what the Indians have provided me through the last 20-odd years. Sure, the teeth may be a bit much – and the older Chief Wahoo that was more orange than red is even worse – but its only a logo.
I honestly feel that the team still embraces Wahoo as Dolan mentions. After all, the most recent blanket giveaway featured each and every one of the past Chief Wahoos even dating back to the ones that looked more like cave drawings than baseball logos. However, there is no denying that the last thing that this poor-at-best baseball team needs is more negative publicity over something that they can control without having to increase their precious payroll. If it came down to it, Wahoo could be cast away quicker than Fausto Carmona’s last start.
I’ll be anxiously awaiting the results of the Redskins case, and I’m sure I won’t be alone. But for now, I fear the final days of the Good Chief.