Sports and society have shared a unique link in America for hundreds of years. People bruising and throwing each other around is no doubt barbaric, but throw on some pads and sanction it under the NFL and its a completely normal thing to watch on the Lord’s day of rest. Destruction of property is always a harbinger of crime and misdeeds—unless it is after your team won the Superbowl. Unfortunately, the worst thing about this link is the view of marginalized groups and how archaic sporting logos and names can perpetuate a stereotype.
In January of 2018, the Cleveland Indians made the decision to finally erase the horribly racist “Chief Wahoo” from their team logos, starting in 2019. This is of course great news, as the Indians had a racist caricature of a Native American serving as their logo for 68 years, but many problems still remain. The team name is still Indians, Wahoo will still be used on officially licensed merchandise and stubborn people will still claim Wahoo isn’t racist.
Native Americans are a particular target of marginalization when it comes to professional sports teams. Five professional sports teams and countless college teams have Native American mascots, most of which are simply just labeled “Indians”, which we all know is incorrect. This has become an accepted part of sports but it needs to be rejected. Replace Indians with any other race and think about how racist it seems. Any other racial slur or inaccuracy could never find itself anywhere near an official name for a professional sports team, but Indians has held up over time.
The crux of this problem is Native Americans being demeaned and barely having a voice to explain why that is bad over the thousands of louder white people who feel the need to tell them that it isn’t offensive. Nobody wants to be coddled and treated differently, but when the only exposure that most people will have to an entire race is a buck-toothed, red-skinned monster with a huge feather in his hair, that is a huge problem. This isn’t even addressing the horrible logo for the Washington football team that I will never refer to by their racial slur that is the official team name. No other race is represented by a professional team. The Washington Brownskins, Yellowskins, Whiteskins, and Blackskins would never in a million years be an official team name.
The Cleveland Indians have taken a step in the right direction, but still selling licensed merchandise with a racist character on them is an unforgivable way of pandering to the racist masses that don’t like progression simply for the fact of it being progressive. The Cleveland baseball team changing their logo effects the lives of absolutely 0 caucasian residents in Ohio, but don’t try to tell that to the millions of social media accounts calling the organization “soft”, “sensitive” and “liberal” for trying to commit a respectable act to the most marginalized race in the history of America.