Recent discussions have brought a team’s tradition to the forefront. It is time for the MLB team from Cleveland to change its name.
It’s a topic I hadn’t thought of to be honest. It wasn’t in my realm, it wasn’t in my face. Even thinking back to the last time the Toronto Blue Jays and the team from Cleveland met, on Canada Day, it was more about the holiday and baseball than the team they were playing. I was in summer baseball mode enjoying the sunshine and later the fireworks. Celebrating the country. The word Indian wasn’t even on my radar.
The moment this “Indians” issue came into focus for me was when Toronto Blue Jays broadcaster, Jerry Howarth, shared a letter from an aboriginal fan that explained, in a gentle way, how offensive some team names are.
Good for Jerry Howarth choosing not to use 'Indians" …. choice stems from 1992 Jays World Series vs. Atlanta: https://t.co/NU2ceDU3W7
— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) October 11, 2016
Here’s the thing. The fact that this is offensive is not news. The idea that it is now 2016 and it hasn’t changed should be the story. You see, the world is aware that Christopher Columbus was wrong. He was wrong about finding India. The people whose home he landed upon were not Indian. They were Aboriginal, Indigenous People. So you couple the wrong name for a people, with a horrible stereotypical image of an aboriginal person wearing a feather as your logo and it just equals all kinds of wrong.
Now there are instances of teams, named after a people, that are positive. It can be done. The Montreal Canadiens are named after my people. Though I am most definitely not a fan of the team, it is done in a positive way. Their logo for example is simple, two letters.
Now if I am going to use Cleveland’s example as the offensive way to do this, I would change Canadiens to Whites (ode to the team name Redmen which is unfortunately also used often) and have a logo comprised of Bob and Doug MacKenzie drunk on beer on a sofa.
Now some would argue that Cleveland’s logo is fine, that Aboriginals use feathers, that he just looks so jovial. Do Aboriginals use feathers in their headdress? Yes, yes they do, but they are sacred and have meanings not meant for the fronts of baseball shirts. On the same token, one might say Canadians drink beer and sit on sofas and are also so very jovial. Do Canadiens drink beer? Yes, yes they do, but we’re not rushing out to put them on the front of sport uniforms.
I don’t see the difficulty in Cleveland having their name evolve (again). It certainly wasn’t always “Indians” and has evolved a few times since the team’s inception. A blog by Joe Posnanski gives the history of the evolutions.
I think this issue just has to keep coming to the forefront until change is made. Is the Cleveland Aboriginals with new logo depicting strength and honour the answer? I don’t know. I do know that what they have right now isn’t it. Time to right some wrongs.
It is 2016 after all and quite frankly, we know better.
*Featured Image Credit: kdemerly- UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Catherine Stem is a Blue Jays fan and writer who has combined both of these great things by writing for Jays From the Couch. Through all the ups and downs of baseball, all aspects of the game are explored. Keeping a close eye on the Blue Jays Triple A team, the Buffalo Bisons has also become part of her make-up.