A wide angle image of spectators at Progressive Field singing “Take me out to the ballgame” with the Cleveland skyline in the background on August 15, 2018. Photo provided by Chris Chow on Unsplash.

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

The Cleveland Indians baseball team will change its name following the 2021 season. Some of the names being considered include The Naps, The Rocks, The Spiders, The Guardians and The Buckeyes.

Cleveland’s baseball team has been known as the Indians since 1915. Though its origin is unclear, the name was partly based on the success of the Boston Braves, as well as Louis Sockalexis, a former Native American baseball star in Cleveland who died in 1913.

The team has faced backlash from Native American groups and those who see the use of Indigenous mascots and imagery for sports teams as racist and demeaning. Before the 2019 season, the team began phasing out Chief Wahoo and moving to the block C logo for uniforms and imagery. In July, the team said in a statement that its name is among the most visible ways the team connects with the community, but it would also engage that community in regards to the “best path forward” for the name. The team also said that the recent unrest “underscored the need for us to keep improving on social justice issues.”

“This is the culmination of decades of work,” the Oneida Nation of New York, which led the Change the Mascot Movement, said in a statement to ESPN. The statement added that the names are harmful and praised the team for charting a new path by changing it. 

President Donald Trump decried the name change, saying it was “cancel culture at work.” Trump condemned the Cleveland Baseball team and the Washington Football Team for considering changing their names in July, accusing them of being “politically correct.”

Though Cleveland is approaching a name change for its baseball team, there’s no indication that the Atlanta Braves will follow suit.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of articles showing different viewpoints on the topic.

Reports: Cleveland Indians to drop controversial nickname after 105 years – Axios – 12/13/2020
The Oneida Nation, which is headquartered in New York, said in a statement to ESPN that the change was “the culmination of decades of work.” “Groups like the National Congress of American Indians passed resolutions for decades on this, social science has made clear these names are harmful and Cleveland got out in front of it and they’re leading, and rather than having this hanging over their heads, they’re charting a new path,” the statement added.

Cleveland Indians to Scrap Team Name – National Review – 12/14/2020
The decision to abandon what is considered a racially insensitive nickname follows years of protests at Cleveland’s Progressive Field. Major League Baseball was also pressuring the team to change its name.

Cleveland baseball team will drop ‘Indians’ nickname – USA Today – 12/13/2020
For years, Native American groups and others have protested against Cleveland’s use of Indians as its name as well as other imagery used by the American League charter franchise founded in 1901. Last year, the team removed the contentious Chief Wahoo logo from its caps and jerseys, but the smiling, cartoonish mascot has remained popular and merchandise is still sold bearing its image.

Donald Trump Laments ‘Cancel Culture’ Name Change for Cleveland Indians – Breitbart – 12/14/2020
The Cleveland Indians is the latest team to buckle to pressure from activists who believe that any sports franchise featuring Native American tribes or images is racist. The Washington Redskins dropped their name in July and are currently known as the Washington Football Team as they await a new franchise branding.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of tweets showing different viewpoints on the topic.

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