I don’t think the government has a role in making the Indians drop Chief Wahoo or change their name. The team is a private business and it can do what it wants to. But I have no problem with it passing non-binding resolutions as a means of attempting to move public support. That’s what one Ohio senator has done in the state legislature:
Eric Kearney, a Democrat from Cincinnati, introduced a resolution Wednesday that would encourage the baseball team to adopt a new name and mascot, citing racial insensitivity. He also sent a letter to Indians owner Lawrence Dolan urging a change.
The legislature is on summer break, actually, so no one is gonna do anything with this. And it seems that the Indians are in no mood to do anything with Wahoo. Team president Mark Shapiro — not responding to this resolution, but speaking in an unrelated press conference yesterday — said this:
“[Chief Wahoo] represents the heritage of the team and the ballpark” and will remain in place. He added that the team will continue to build and promote the use of the block “C.”
I guess you can try to have it both ways — minimizing Wahoo’s presence officially, promoting the block C but still selling merch with Wahoo on it and not alienating fans — as long as you want. But at some point it’s even worse to take this tack, isn’t it? To essentially lie about the racist mascot as officially representing the team when it does so less and less but being happy to cynically use it for marking purposes among fans who would chafe at its removal.
Maybe someday the Indians should take a stand and either give the thing the organization’s full-throated endorsement or else get rid of it altogether?