The Cleveland Indians are reportedly exploring a name change.
The year 2020 has taken on serious significance as the social issue of racism was brought into the international spotlight after the murder of George Floyd. The movement to promote equality has led several sports organizations to reconsider nicknames that have long been considered offensive, including the Washington Redskins.
The latest team to explore a change is the Cleveland Indians, with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reporting that the organization is planning to re-examine its name. In a statement released to The Athletic, the Indians said the following:
“We are committed to making a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality. Our organization fully recognizes our team name is among the most visible ways in which we connect with the community. We have had ongoing discussions organizationally on these issues. The recent unrest in our community and our country has only underscored the need for us to keep improving as an organization on issues of social justice. With that in mind, we are committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.”
The Indians already moved away from their controversial Chief Wahoo logo in 2018, replacing it with the red block C instead. With the MLB season a few weeks away, it appears that any potential change wouldn’t come earlier than 2021.
This is a significant step for Cleveland, which appears to be committed to discussing its branding with the Native American community, fans and staff members before making a decision on how to proceed.
The Indians, a founding member of the American League, have used their nickname since 1915. Prior to that, the organization was known as the Cleveland Naps in honor of star player Nap Lajoie.
It will also be interesting to see if the Indians’ stance affects other teams with nicknames or logos that could be considered offensive.