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Wahoo (From 2007)

Huh. I was looking up something I had written about Chief Wahoo because of this riveting and powerful piece written by Sterling HolyWhiteMountain.

And I came across this old piece — I believe it’s the first long blog piece I ever wrote. It originally appeared on some long ago version of this blog, five or six bloggy generations ago. It was written with the Clevelands up three games to one on the Boston Red Sox during the 2007 American League Championship Series.

The Erie Reader found it somehow four years ago and republished it.

I’ve written a lot about Wahoo and the Indians name since then but I think this was the one where I got my hardest feelings down. Here it is again, edited for context, updates and various things I’ve learned since then.

The Indians are one game away from the World Series, there’s mayhem and excitement and so much to write about. But for some reason, I’m motivated tonight to write about Chief Wahoo. I wouldn’t blame you for skipping this one … not many people seem to agree with me about how it’s past time to get rid of this racist logo of my childhood.

Cleveland has had an odd and somewhat comical history when it comes to sports nicknames. The football team is, of course, called the Browns, technically after the great Paul Brown, though Tom Hanks says it’s because everything Cleveland is brown. He has a point. You know, it was always hard to know exactly what you were supposed to do as a “Brown” fan. You could wear brown, of course, but that was pretty limiting. And then you would be standing in the stands, ready to do something, but what the hell does brown do (for you)? You supposed to pretend to be a UPS Truck? You supposed to mimic something brown (and boy does THAT bring up some disgusting possibilities?) I mean Brown is not a particularly active color.

At least the Browns nickname makes some sort of Cleveland sense. The basketball team is called the Cavaliers, after 17th Century English Warriors who dressed nice. That name was chosen in a fan contest — the winning entry wrote that the team should “represent a group of daring, fearless men, whose life’s pact was never surrender, no matter the odds.” Not too long after this, the Cavaliers would feature timeout act called “Fat Guy Eating Beer Cans.”

The hockey team, first as a minor league team and then briefly in the NHL, was called the Barons after an old American Hockey League team — the name was owned by longtime Clevelander named Nick Mileti*, and he gave it to the NHL team in exchange for a free dinner. Mileti had owned a World Hockey Association team also, ane he called that one the Crusaders. Don’t get any of it. You get the sense that at some point it was a big game  to try and come up with the nickname that had the least to do with Cleveland.

Nickname guy 1: How about Haberdashers?
Nickname guy 2: No, we have some of those in Cleveland.
Nickname guy 1: Polar Bears?
Nickname guy 2: I think there are some at the Cleveland Zoo.
Nickname guy 1: How about Crusaders? They’re long dead.

*Mileti is still alive — he is 85 now — and he has recently written several books, my favorite title being: Closet Italians: A Dazzling Collection of Illustrious Italians with Non-Italian Names.

Cleveland’s baseball nickname history has its own crazy history. The baseball team in the 1890 Players League was called the Cleveland Infants. My best guess is they were named that for 16-year-old pitcher Willie McGill, who won 11 games that season, but I don’t know. Maybe they brought infants to the games. Maybe they had a deal where you could use your infant as a ticket into the game.

In other years, the baseball teams were called the Blues, the Bronchos and, of course, the Spiders. We’ll get back to the Spiders in a few minutes. Then, from 1903-1914, they were known as the Cleveland Naps. This was after the great Napoleon Lajoie, who signed with the team as a free agent in 1903. II’m guessing it was in the contract that they name the team after him; I’m surprised Roger Clemens didn’t ask for this. Though Lajoie was a great player, you do have to admire a team that would name itself after a quick afternoon sleep. Then, in 1914, the Naps lost 102 games, and Lajoie hit .258, 80 points below his career average. He was 39 then and clearly done (he did play two more mostly ineffective years in Philadelphia), and so Cleveland needed a new nickname. You know what’s coming. This is when legend and fact blur.

The way I had always heard it growing up is that the team, needing a new nickname, went back into their history to honor an old Native American player named Louis Sockalexis. Sockalexis was, by most accounts, the first full-blooded Native American to play professional baseball. He had been quite a phenom in high school, and he developed into a a fairly mediocre and minor outfielder for the Spiders (he played just 94 games in three years). He did hit .338 his one good year, and he created a lot of excitement, and apparently (or at least I was told) he was beloved and respected by everybody. In this “respected-and-beloved” version, nobody ever mentions that Sockalexis may have ruined his career by jumping from the second-story window of a whorehouse. Or that he was an alcoholic. Still, in all versions of the story, Sockalexis had to deal with horrendous racism, terrible taunts, whoops from the crowd, and so on. He endured (sort of — at least until that second story window thing).

So this version of the story goes that in 1915, less than two years after the death of Sockalexis, the baseball team named itself the “Indians” in his honor. That’s how I heard it. And, because you will believe anything that you hear as a kid I believed it for a long while (I also believed for a long time that dinosaurs turned into oil — I still sort of believe it, I can’t help it. Also that if you stare at the moon too long you will turn into a werewolf).

In recent years, though, we find that this Sockalexis story might be a bit exaggerated or, perhaps, complete bullcrap. If you really think about it, the story never made much sense to begin with. Why exactly would people in Cleveland — this in a time when native Americans were generally viewed as subhuman in America — name their team after a relatively minor and certainly troubled outfielder? There is evidence that the Indians were actually named that to capture some of the magic of the Native-American named Boston Braves, who had just had their Miracle Braves season (the Braves, incidentally, were not named AFTER any Native Americans but were rather named after a greasy politican named James Gaffney, who became team president and was apparently called the Brave of Tammany Hall). This version makes more sense.

Addition: There is compelling evidence that the team’s nickname WAS certainly inspired by Sockalexis — the team was often called “Indians” during his time. But even this is a mixed bag; how much they were called Indians to HONOR Sockalexis, and how much they were called Indians to CASH IN on Sockalexis’ heritage is certainly in dispute.

We do know for sure they were called the Indians in 1915, and (according to a story written by author and NYU Professor Jonathan Zimmerman) they were welcomed with the sort of sportswriting grace that would follow the Indians through the years: “We’ll have the Indians on the warpath all the time, eager for scalps to dangle at their belts.” Oh yes, we honor you Louis Sockalexis.

What, however, makes a successful nickname? You got it: Winning. The Indians were successful pretty quickly. In 1916, they traded for an outfielder named Tris Speaker. That same year they picked up a pitcher named Stan Covaleski in what Baseball Reference calls “an unknown transaction.” There need to be more of those. And the Indians also picked up a 26-year-old pitcher on waivers named Jim Bagby. Those three were the key forces in the Indians 1920 World Series championship. After that, they were the Indians to stay.

Chief Wahoo, from what I can tell, was born much later. The first official Chief Wahoo logo seems to have been drawn just after World War II. Until then, Cleveland wore hats with various kinds of Cs on them. In 1947, the first Chief Wahoo appears on a hat.* He’s got the yellow face, long nose, the freakish grin, the single feather behind his head … quite an honor for Sockalexis. As a friend of mine used to say, “It’s surprising they didn’t put a whiskey bottle right next to his head.”

There’s something of a riddle here: Chief Wahoo was commissioned by Bill Veeck one of baseball’s great showmen. Veeck was instrumental — as instrumental in his own way as Branch Rickey — in the African American integration of baseball. But he was numb to the awful way Wahoo depicted Native Americans. Or, more likely, he just didn’t think about it, didn’t connect the image to real people. This has been the disconnect that has endured for 70 years.

Three years later, they changed the Wahoo logo — I suspect this is not because people thought it was racist (nobody really cared) but because they liked a newer, cleaner version of Wahoo. This new Wahoo was another grinning, slightly-smaller-nosed, one-feather Indian, only this time his face was all red.

This is, more or less, the Chief Wahoo of today.

This is also the Chief Wahoo I grew up with, though it should be said that there was a time during my childhood when the Indians seemed more or less embarrassed by Wahoo. I never thought this was because of any PC sensibilities — I think they Indians were just so bad they were looking for a new start wherever they could find one. They started going back to trying various Cs on hats throughout the 1960s and 1970s, including the unforgettable “Crooked C” blue and red thing of 1975.

Wahoo was always around — there was a giant Wahoo on Cleveland Municipal Stadium, you could see it from a half mile away. I know I wore lots of clothes with that grinning Wahoo on them. I had no problem doing that. I liked Wahoo. To me, he was funny. Then, that’s the point, isn’t it? I never thought about it.

Here’s when I started thinking about it: I was walking through the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem — Yad Vashem — and found myself starting at these caricatures of Jews that were in stories and games and comic books and such for kids in 1930s Germany. I looked at these things in horror for a long, long time. You know why? The logos themselves weren’t so different from Wahoo. I could see kids finding them “funny.”

Now, I’m not comparing anything but the style of logos — obviously, the Jewish caricatures were sinister, part of a government plot. They were meant to raise generation after generation of people who would see Jews as subhuman, as comic characters, as fictional. Wahoo is, I think, just a stupid sports logo that outlasted its time.

But — and this is the point — those cartoons, like Wahoo, were of real people only they were not of real people. They were cartoony and goofy and exaggerated and meant to make a child laugh. Yes, we often see the vicious caricatures that the Nazis would used to instill fear and loathing in adults. But these were much less fearsome. They were for children. And, in that way, they were more haunting. And, yes, they made me think of Wahoo.

Here’s a newspaper quote you might enjoy, taken from the same article I mentioned earlier: “To insist that Native Americans be given equal rights with other citizens is one thing. To insist that their particular sensibilities entitle them to exercise a kind of sensorship is quite another.” T

hat’s the argument for Wahoo, isn’t it? The argument is that Native Americans are being too sensitive. What’s the big deal anyway? Chief Wahoo doesn’t hurt anybody. Don’t Native Americans have much bigger problems to deal with than a logo on a baseball cap? Wahoo has been around for a long time, we don’t need censorship of our sports because a few Native Americans are marching, right?

Trouble is, that quote wasn’t about Native Americans. It was actually a quote taken from The Washington Post in 1947, and you can replace “Native Americans” with Negroes. It was an editorial The Post wrote about how Little Black Sambo was a fun little storybook character, and anyone who took offense to this grinning, big-lipped abomination was just acting silly and politically correct. Symbols do matter.

The funny thing is, everybody really does understand this on both sides of the argument. People sometimes PRETEND not to the understand the other side, but you have to believe they do understand. I do not believe it is possible to look at Chief Wahoo and not see that it is an insulting portrayal of Native Americans. Nobody could look at that grinning mug and say, “No, it’s really a flattering portrayal of Native Americans, who were conquered, nearly wiped off the planet by our ancestors and then forced to live on reservations.”

The argument is that you care more about Chief Wahoo’s history than those insulted by it. The argument is that, because it is not INTENDED to be racist, that it is not racist. The argument is that it’s just a SPORTS LOGO, and it doesn’t have anything to do with real Native Americans. The argument is that it is such a part of Cleveland’s sports history that you don’t want to give it up, it bonds you to the city and the past, and people who are insulted by it should toughen up because they have other problems.

The argument is: Come on. This doesn’t matter.

I know the arguments. I grew up with Wahoo. I’ve worn him on my head, over my heart and on my sleeve. I know.

I think so many of us, because we did not know Native Americans growing up and learned history from a certain point of view,were raised to think of Indians as cartoon characters, as movie villains, as the American Indian who had a tear in his eye because people kept dumping garbage all over this great land. We have become desensitized. I heard someone doing a comedy bit on XM Radio about Native Americans and casinos and alcohol and how nobody should care anyway because they lost the wars, and though I’ve heard similar bits (and I think I have pretty tough comedy constitution), this particular one was so cruel, so mean-spirited, so wrong, that I realized there was probably no other group in America someone could say such awful things.

The only reason Chief Wahoo is around is because Native Americans don’t have a strong enough political voice in this country to put a stop to it. When Native Americans protested at the 1997 World Series, they were mostly laughed at. Three were arrested. Is this really the kind of country we want to be? And for what? To stand up for our inherent rights to enjoy a racist sports logo?

I love Cleveland. I love the Indians and I even love Wahoo in a weird way because it is such a part of my childhood. But it is not just time to get rid of Wahoo, it is way, way past time. I don’t think this is the biggest problem facing the world, or even the 5,4993,287th biggest problem facing the world. I don’t care about political correctness either. No. It’s just wrong. Very wrong.Get rid of it. The fewer wrong things in the world, better.

And it brings me all the way back to this … why can’t we just go back to calling the team the Spiders. That’s a great name, and it’s not taken by anybody in major sports. There’s history there. It actually fits Cleveland. And there are a million incredible logo and mascot possibilities.

Even if they don’t get rid of the Indians nickname, clearly they should bury Wahoo. It would be so easy. They don’t even have to make an announcement. Just stop having it on the uniform. When people ask about it, just say, “Yeah, we’re building around the C now.” They have this cool Block Letter C hat now, it’s so awesome, I just bought two of them, a red and a blue. All the Wahoo clothe in my house are gone. Block Letter C rules.

Let’s end this.

I wrote this in 2007, and it’s even more true in 2016: This would be a good year to make it happen. The Indians are IN the World Series. There is some real joy happening. There are a lot of good feelings in the Cleveland air. It would be the ideal time to end a logo that should never have been born to begin with.

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57 Responses to Wahoo (From 2007)

  1. Marco says:

    I often wonder about the financial impact of changing the name and logo.

    You’ve got to believe that the merchandise sales would go through the roof – both for the new gear, and for “throwback” Indians stuff.

    What about ticket sales though?

    There’s got to be some people who would rage quit the team. Would there be an offsetting number of new ticket buyers?

    • invitro says:

      The thing is, the Wahoo merchandise sales are probably going through the roof *right now*. For some reason, I thought the Indians had minimized the use of Wahoo on their uniform. But nope, it’s prominently on their cap and shirt for (as far as I can tell, corrections welcome) most of their games I’ve watched this postseason. I’ve made a point to look at the shots of the crowds a couple of times, to see if Wahoo has a presence there, and you better believe it. The fans seem to LOVE Chief Wahoo. It’s not as much as the Braves fans loved the Tomahawk Chop, but lots of them have Wahoos on their clothes, on posters, on signs.

      This has become one of Joe’s favorite things to write about. I don’t see anything in this article that was worth adding over the recent Sockalexis one. My opinion is the same: show me research that shows that at least (say) 30% of Indians want the team to drop Chief Wahoo, and/or the name Indians. If HolyWhiteMountain hates them, well that’s still just one guy, and I’ll guess that ESPN had a massive bounty out for any Indian who would write an article saying the Indians were racists. Calling people racist is big money these days.

      Some baseball… I talked with my Dad this morning, and he said Kluber last night was the best pitching he’d ever seen on TV. He said he didn’t think it was possible for a baseball to move the way Kluber made it move.

      • John Autin says:

        You really need to see research? What if you just ask yourself, how would I feel if I was one of them? — Or if there was a team logo that was a caricature of my ethnic group, or of my wife, my friend, etc.?

        • invitro says:

          Yes, I need to see research. I can’t read people’s minds, I can’t assume that how I might feel if I were them is how they actually feel. Also, there are some research easily available. Would you have thought that 90% of Indians don’t find “Redskins” offensive, if you used your “how would I feel” method? I doubt it.

          This is a great question though. It illustrates one of the main points and victories of science. Before science, just thinking about something was considered to explain it fully. After science, we know that we need to take measurements, and use data and facts, instead of thinking that we know everything prima facie.

          • Tim says:

            Serious question – what percentage of Indians finding it offensive would you consider high enough to merit a change?

          • Tim says:

            Because 10% of Indians is an awful lot of people who find this thing offensive, it seems to me.

          • invitro says:

            I don’t know, maybe 20%. I mean, probably everything in the world is considered offensive to at least 10% of people. More than 10% of people are irrational, for one thing. The 10% of course have their right to make their case and try to convince others, but I think it’s silly to kowtow to the demands of a minority that small for something of such small import to their lives.

          • Pat says:

            Tim, don’t engage. If you look down the comments, you’ll find the 90/10 thing is pretty fishy, as are many things you can find on the internet (even in Joe’s comments section, which is one of the better ones).
            But the larger point is that it’s really not worth trying to have this conversation here, in this context, with certain interlocutors.

          • invitro says:

            I think I’m gonna add “Interlocutor” to my résumé.

        • casey bell says:

          I also thought of the survery of Native Americans which was done in regards to whether they found the name “Redskins” offensive or not. About 90 percent said the nickname did not bother them. You can google it if you have any doubts.

          As for the question of what percentage of Native Americans would have to find the name “Indians” offensive in order for it to be banned, I’d say AT LEAST 50 percent. To get rid of the
          “Indians” nickname when less than half find it offensive would be just more political correctness.

          Words can and often do have multiple meanings, you know. What some people consider a slur can be a term of pride or comradery for someone else. Virtually any word or phrase could be interpretted as
          offensive by somebody somewhere, so where does it stop?

          Consider baseball terms such as ‘left’ field (offensive to conservatives?), right field (offensive to liberals?), shortstop
          (offensive to midgets?), screwball (offensive to the mentally ill?).

          See what I mean?

  2. Marc Schneider says:

    When the Braves first came to Atlanta, they had a mascot named Chief Nocahoma, who was stationed out behind the fence in left field with a teepee and dressed, obviously, in stereotypical Indian dress. He would do a dance when a Brave hit a home run. Eventually, the team did away with Chief Nocahoma. In addition, they toned down the original Braves logo, which featured an Indian; as I remember, he was intended to be more fierce that Wahoo. Today, the only real reference other than the Tomahawk Chop-which is pretty perfunctory these days-is the tomahawk on the jerseys. I’m not sure if this is sufficient but they have made some effort to eliminate the most stereotypical elements of the team’s name.

    • Squawks McGrew says:

      Glad you posted since it brought back memories. While the Braves may have toned down the use of the logo for socially acceptable reasons, they phased out Chief Nocahoma for financial reasons. Levi Walker, the Native American who portrayed the fan favorite character, was demanding more money for appearances and the Braves said no and parted company.

      Which reminds me that during the 1982 pennant race with the Dodgers, the Braves took down Nocahoma’s teepee in left field in September (something they’d done every previous year). Except this season, the Braves, battling for first place, went into a tailspin. Enough folks believed removing the teepee had put a curse on the team that the front office put it back. The Braves finished first.

  3. Johnny says:

    Do you think the team/fans and those offended would accept a compromise of sorts? Get rid of Wahoo and change the team name to the Cleveland Tribe. It can honor the teams history among loyal fans and eliminate the most racist aspects of the name and logo. I’m not sure if this is still offensive, but I would imagine most people would see it as an improvement. The best part, most people refer to the team as the Tribe often already.

    • Hudson Valley Slim says:

      Yes! The Cleveland Tribe. I’m from the East and we always refer to the Indians as the Tribe. Go Tribe!

  4. Knuckles says:

    This topic never gets old Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

  5. Michael C Lorah says:

    I generally think that 90% of what people try to dismiss as being “politically correct” is simple politeness. It’s simply polite to have a team nickname and logo/mascot that is not demeaning to a large group of people. (Really, to anybody, though I understand you can’t not-offend everybody all the time. Still, I think the divide between a handful of individuals and an ethnic minority is very evident in this case.)

    I understand that people have an affection for the names they’ve grown up with, and I understand that the team may have a large battle ahead to get the new name accepted and into popular use. For me, the continued use of the name and logo isn’t an outrage (though I can certainly recognize my own privileged position in the lack of ethnic stereotypes pointed at a middle class white guy and understand where others might be more incensed). There’s enough in this world be outraged about, but this topic one of those human respect issues that should be pointed out and hopefully corrected.

    Either Tribe or Spiders would be a good change that respect the history and heritage of the city’s baseball tradition.

    • Pat says:

      Agreed entirely, although I might add that it only gets called “political correctness” when it’s politeness extended to people who this country hasn’t always been great at showing politeness to.

      The Spiders would be an infinitely better team name. The Washington Hogs would be an infinitely better name for that NFL franchise. The Braves don’t have as obvious a substitute… the Atlanta Peanuts?

      • invitro says:

        You do know that 90% of Indians don’t consider the Redskins name to be offensive, right? This is a fact, unlike the claims you guys are making, which have no basis in facts. The truth is that political correctness is *bullying*. Bullying by “progressives”, based on fantasy views of the world, probably taught them in college.

        Here’s a link to the Washington Post study that you guys seem to be sticking your head in the ground to ignore, although I can’t blame you too much, since pushing people around is much easier and more fun than learning the truth:

        • Marc Schneider says:

          Well, I do agree that a lot of the hypersensitivity in response to supposed racial and sexual slights does become bullying, especially on campuses. My daughter has experienced some of the silliness at her college. But I don’t see why it’s “political correctness” to consider if a mascot or team name is offensive to a group. Why be needlessly offensive, unless you think no one should take offense at anything? The fact is, if you were naming a team today, you certainly wouldn’t name them “Indians” or have a Chief Wahoo logo. As another commenter said, sometime it’s just a matter of being polite.

          As far as the Washington Post poll, I don’t know how they actually conducted the poll. Is it a valid poll? I don’t know.

          • invitro says:

            It’s not political correctness to think about the concerns of groups of people, especially people that have often been marginalized. But it *is* political correctness to ignore a major survey of what Indians actually think, to ignore the many other surveys that say basically the same thing (if not at the 90% level), to just assume (as a good progressive white person) that one knows what’s best for the Indians better than they do.

            I don’t know any reason to think the survey isn’t valid, which I suppose is a question of how random the sample is. But at the 90% level, it hardly matters. I doubt it’s possible to have a survey with a 90% result that is not statistically significant. Anyway, the Post published another big article with the details of their methodology — I saw it in the Google results right behind the link to this survey.

        • Michael C Lorah says:

          I’m not sure I made any claims at all. I simply stated my opinion.

          Additionally, I don’t see who is being bullied in this scenario either. The question has been raised “Is this a culturally appropriate thing?” and we’ve offered opinions. You’re free to disagree with them. Nobody’s calling anybody names.

          Finally, I don’t have a magic number of Native Americans who need to be offended to make changing these team names important vs trivial. 10% seems like a high number to me. We’re not talking about politically charged social issues that impact people’s lives where I understand larger percentages are going to be unhappy. (I’ll refrain from mentioning such topics as to avoid opening an avenue toward unnecessary political discussion.) We’re talking about the name of a sports team – nobody’s quality of life is negatively impacted by changing it aside from a certain loss of nostalgia. Conversely, if changed, 10% of the Native Americans (assuming the poll’s authenticity, as Marc already pointed out) in the country don’t feel they’re being mocked or ridiculed by something that’s easily corrected.

          Again, no outrageous claims. Just my opinion. You can disagree.

          • invitro says:

            “Additionally, I don’t see who is being bullied in this scenario either.” — The people who are being called racists. In Canada, it is apparently a crime to call people Indians; the people arrested of that crime are being bullied.

            If you think that 10% is a big number, well at least you’re acknowledging the existence of the survey, that’s progress. I’d much rather debate that number than try to get people to stop thinking they can read the entirety of Indian people’s minds.

            (For what it’s worth, the Washington Post is a very well-respected newspaper, probably #2 in the USA after the New York Times (which it’s actually probably far better than), and quite left-leaning to boot. I will not swear that their survey is valid, but I’d be very surprised if it isn’t.)

          • Michael C Lorah says:

            I can’t deny that people can be quick to jump on the “racist” battle cry, but I think we’ve been keeping it civil here.

            The lack of civility, particularly online, among both conservatives and progressives makes discussions like this difficult. Joe’s blog, which I’ve read for a while but not commented on prior to the Springsteen post, seems to inspire more level-headed discourse. Otherwise, I’d have stayed away.

            Anyway, I’m not sure I have much more to say. I understand the respect for traditions and the appeal of nostalgia. I think a change would be respectful and kind. But I’m not boycotting the Cleveland or Atlanta baseball teams if they don’t come up with new nicknames.

          • Michael C Lorah says:

            Also, I need to remember to put those ellipses between my paragraphs. I HATE seeing them run together like they do! 😉

          • Casey Bell says:

            So if 10% of Native Americans are offended and the other 90% don’t, we should bow to the desires of the 10%?

            What if 20% of Native Americans actually LIKE having a major league baseball team nicknamed the “Indians”? Would you still suggest that the nickname be changed out of ‘respect’ for the
            minority 10%?

          • invitro says:

            That thing is a joke. The poll creator clearly just ignored the vast majority of respondents that didn’t agree with his politics. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if his poll was of three people, one being himself. Quackery.

            But thanks for the link; its real value is in a link to a 2004 study that reported what look to be the same results as the Washington Post survey.

        • mrh says:

          Here’s the link to methodological details.

          First, only people who agreed to be surveyed were asked questions. Right there is a potential margin of error.

          Second, all Native Americans were self-identified. Again, this creates a margin for error.

          But if you believe this methodology did in fact get a representative sample, then you are prepared to accept as good data the responses to question 3, “The professional football team in Washington calls itself the Washington Redskins. As a Native American do you find that name offensive, or doesn’t it bother you?”

          And only 9% of the 504 answered “offensive.” That’s such a small percentage that it’s hard to make a case against the name on grounds that Native Americans are offended by it.

          My problem with this number (besides my doubts that it was a good sample to begin with) are from Question 6, which asked of respondents (see link) was:

          “In general, do you feel the word ‘Redskin’ is disrespectful of Native Americans or not?*”

          21% said yes. And the asterisk: “Asked of 340 respondents”

          I’m not an expert on polling, but I think claiming you’ve done a survey of 504 people and only 340 of them are asked a key question on that survey is fishy. I don’t see how you can go from 71 respondents (21% of 340) thinking “redskin” is “disrespectful”, add 164 more people to the survey, and get only 9% of them finding the team name is “offensive” if you’ve got a valid survey.

          Maybe “offensive” is that much higher a standard than “disrespectful.”

          • invitro says:

            “First, only people who agreed to be surveyed were asked questions.” — You’re right. The Post guys should’ve tied up the people who didn’t want to be surveyed, and forced to watch Cleveland Brown games until they coughed up their answers. (Seriously, did you guys complete third grade?)

          • MikeN says:

            Besides the poor wording of the questions, that people find Redskins in general might be offensive, 21% of those asked, 14% of total sample, is not the same as saying they are offended by use as part of a football team.

      • Marc Schneider says:

        Why not the Atlanta Brave, ie, make it singular, take away the Native American motif. Brave has a meaning independent of Native American culture.

  6. Donald Snoorm says:

    I’ve seen pictures of Wahoo where he’s been colored fire engine red, which is racist. Give him a human skin tone, though, and I’m not seeing the offensiveness. Wahoo is not caricatured in the stereotypical Der Stürmer/minstrel sheet music hate drawing way. He’s a silly face with a huge smile and a head feather. The Padres “swinging friar” is also silly. The Orioles’ bird is silly. The Boston Celtics’ ball-balancing Irishman is silly. Maybe these kinds of designs have gone out of style– it seems like half the teams in the NFL use snarling beasts and birds of prey. But Chief Wahoo’s not a patch on the tomahawk chop for racism, and he’s not on the same continent as “Redskins.” And I have no affinity for the Cleveland Indians or their logo. I just believe that if we could eliminate all bigotry from sports, Chief Wahoo could still be standing when the job is done. As a compromise, maybe change his name to Chief Charlie, or “The Chief.”

    • Donald Snoorm says:

      P.S. Yes, of course “Spiders” would be a better name.

    • invitro says:

      ‘he’s not on the same continent as “Redskins.” ‘ — I don’t get it. Are you saying that far more than 10% of Indians find “Redskins” offensive, or far less?

    • MikeN says:

      I remember in grade school, we had to describe each item as fact or opinion. One was American Indians have red color skin. I labeled that as opinion, because no one has skin that is red, but the test thought otherwise.

  7. JB says:

    Interesting article and comments. But it brings something else to my mind. I never miss a chance to make fun of Phil Simms. Remember when he made a big proclamation that he would stop saying “Redskins”? Then he proceeded to stumble around it all night. “The Redsk…I mean New York, uh, I mean Washington.” I haven’t really noticed if he’s stayed with that policy or not. I tend to tune him out and just enjoy the gold on Twitter with Phil Simms Quotes.

  8. MikeN says:

    Your article led to Cleveland losing a 3-1 lead in the ALCS and a World Series.
    They didn’t get back to the World Series until they brought the manager who beat them and brought back LeBron, who embodied the Cavalier spirit in the finals, never giving up even down 3-1.

    Your resurrection of this article will likely produce another flop and a Cubs victory. It’s like how Bill Simmons wrote that he wanted to get his mind off the draft lottery, and only afterwards realized how foolish it was to go see Dejavu.
    Duncan ended up in San Antonio.

    • Pat says:

      Boooo… you can’t force a jinx on someone else’s team, man!

    • Rob Smith says:

      I saw a Cubs fan on TV say that there is no actual curse. The curse is when you have 40,000 people in a stadium fretting and waiting for something to go wrong. If you believe in a curse, it has an impact. If the fans buy into the curse and express it in the stands, it has an impact. If you just go out and play the game it has no power at all. It’s a self fulfilling prophesy. That’s where having a guy like Theo Epstein changing the culture has an impact. Obviously getting better players is a requirement. You can’t win without players.

      But equally important is changing the culture to a winning culture. Winners don’t talk about curses. They don’t talk about excuses. They talk about working hard, playing & rooting for one another, enjoying the process and winning. I think this is the harder part of the equation. And Theo needs to get a lot of credit for doing it twice with two teams that had losing mentalities in the clubhouse and in the stands.

      • Brent says:

        Of course curses don’t exist. They are the excuse used for teams that don’t win enough to prove they don’t exist. I mean, a certain AL team had gut wrenching 7 games WS losses in 1955, 1957, 1960, 1964, and 2001,not to mention being the only baseball team ever to lose a 7 game series after being up 3 games to none and no one says they are cursed, do they?

        • MikeN says:

          No, the Cubs are cursed. It happened. Whether the curse is effective is another matter, but a person cursed the Cubs when they wouldn’t let him bring his goat to the game.

    • Pat says:

      Post-2004, Yankee fans trolled Red Sox with the following: “There was no curse. They just sucked.”

      Gotta admit, that line landed.

      • Hudson Valley Slim says:

        I used to say the curse of the Red Sox was not enough pitching. The Cubbies by and large have just not had the horses through the years. This group does. If they can keep them together for a few years, they’ll get their rings. Finding myself pulling for the Native Americans, maybe it’s an underdog thing….

  9. invitro says:

    I don’t think this little article has been mentioned: “Rob Manfred to Discuss Chief Wahoo Logo with Indians During Offseason”, from two days ago. Manfred says: “I know that that particular logo is offensive to some people, and all of us at Major League Baseball understand why. Logos are, however, primarily a local matter. The local club makes decisions about its logos. Fans get attached to logos. They become part of a team’s history. So it’s not easy as coming to the conclusion and realizing that the logo is offensive to some segment.” Sounds pretty reasonable so far from Manfred.

    I was under the impression that the Wahoo logo was dead, or at least rare, until I saw it all over the place this postseason. The article has an explanation: “The Chief Wahoo logo has long been a source of controversy. In 2014, the team switched to the blocked “C” as its primary logo, but players voted to wear caps and uniforms donning the Chief Wahoo logo throughout the 2016 postseason.” So you can blame Corey Kluber and Jose Ramirez, I guess.

    I haven’t bought a baseball cap in about fifteen years. I think I might buy a Wahoo Indians cap. If Manfred bans it, the price may go way up. An investment!

    • invitro says:

      (For the record, I hate the boring block C, but I love the old crooked C. Maybe I’ll buy a crooked C cap too if I can find one. Aesthetics!)

      • Richard says:

        I prefer the “crooked C” as well, along with the angular font they used in the mid 70s.

        And perhaps the best and easiest way to settle the matter of Chief Wahoo would be for Commissioner Manfred to take the Indians owners aside during the Winter Meetings and tell them, “Look, we all know it’s both hated and loved. Just quietly drop the logo from your official merchandise, so no one has to order you to do so. If fans want to use it unofficially, we’re not going to stop them. But don’t let it appear on any legitimate uniforms or merchandise.”

        • invitro says:

          You have left out why you think that would be either best or easy.

        • invitro says:

          I’ll add that your suggestion almost *defines* bullying:

          An ultra-powerful man confronts someone? Check.

          He orders the someone to do something? Check.

          He doesn’t offer a reason for doing it? Check.

          The Indians management and players would likely tell him to go pound sand, if he used this exact approach. And they’d be right.

      • MikeN says:

        Donald Trump loves this comment.

  10. Rob Smith says:

    I think you might be able to make an argument about calling a team “The Indians” (maybe) if it was done in a flattering way. The Braves have tried to go this route by ditching Chief Noc-A-Homa, but still they have that awful Tomahawk Chop, which seems to mock actual Indians & of course, is just really annoying to listen to.

    But Chief Wahoo…. big nose and red skin is clearly a racist caricature. You wouldn’t have a team called the New York Minstrels & use a man in black face for your logo. At least, I hope nobody would.

    People go back and forth about whether actual Native Americans are truly offended. Maybe most are not. Maybe too many are. That’s a factor. But regardless, we really should eliminate clearly racist symbols. Problem is, you have 40% of the country that thinks that’s just being politically correct. They say, “suck it up and grow some thicker skin”. Ironically these are the same people who have incredibly thin skin about things they care about. So, I obviously disagree with that view.

    It’s actually very hard for me to believe that Chief Wahoo is still around.

    • Brent says:

      The deal with the Tomahawk Chop is that it is something that is not team driven (like a logo or a name) but fan driven. Kind of hard to root that out if the fans like to do it (sort of like the Wave, which is an abomination of a different sort)

  11. Alter Kacker says:

    Of course Wahoo is offensive. Of course it wasn’t “intended” that way, any more than the old Disney and Warner Brothers stereotypes were “intended” that way — that is, they weren’t intended to offend. They were intended to demean, at a time when demeaning minorities was a standard feature of American culture. That time is over. Wahoo will go when a major free agent says he won’t play for Cleveland if he has to wear that logo.

    • invitro says:

      Considering that the Indian players are the ones responsible for putting Wahoo on their shirts and caps this postseason (they voted for it… if you’d read the comments you’d know that), I doubt there are many free agents who disapprove of the logo.

  12. […] (Go give the rest of the post a read, as it definitely captures part of the point I am trying to make) […]

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