It took way, way, way too long–and in fact, we’ll have to wait one more season at least–but the reign of Chief Wahoo is coming to an end. The Cleveland Indians will stop wearing the logo starting in 2019. However, stubborn fans will still be able to buy it–perhaps forever.
According to the New York Times, the commissioner of the MLB, Rob Manfred, has been pressuring Cleveland’s chairman and chief executive Paul Dolan to change the logo. Now, the team has agreed to do so. Starting next year, the American Indian caricature will not appear on player uniforms, nor on signage at the team’s stadium, Progressive Field. However, the team is retaining its trademark on the logo, and it will continue to both sell Wahoo souvenirs and collect royalties on those which are produced and sold by third parties. The MLB website will not sell Wahoo paraphernalia.
After taking so long to acknowledge and act on the problematic logo, it’s unfortunate that Dolan is still protecting Wahoo. Of course, the fact that many Wahoo goods are already sitting in warehouses means the image is going to be around for a long time, no matter what steps are taken today: Note that the Cleveland Indians will not be changing their name. And that it will take a year for Wahoo to disappear from the field. And that the team is still planning to actively profit off the logo–even within their own stadium. In other words, Dolan has taken the bare minimum of steps to appease Wahoo’s critics, while allowing fans who support Wahoo to continue to live with their bigoted 1930s trope in perpetuity because they so value “tradition.”
Indeed, whether it’s the Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, or Washington Redskins, fans so fervent to hold onto the past might benefit from studying their own nation’s history, too.