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Major League Baseball fails to have discrimination claim re: Chief Wahoo thrown out


Peter Edwards of the Toronto Star reports that Major League Baseball, as well as the Cleveland team and Rogers Communications, failed to have a discrimination claim, pertaining to the use of Chief Wahoo and the Indians team name, thrown out on jurisdictional grounds.

An activist, Douglas Cardinal, filed a claim during the playoffs last year when the Indians were in Toronto to play the Blue Jays in the ALCS. Cardinal suggested that the use of Chief Wahoo and “Indians” as a team name were offensive and discriminatory under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

In a prepared statement, Cardinal said:

As an Indigenous person, I am encouraged that the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has accepted jurisdiction over my complaint and agrees that it can proceed to a hearing.

Unfortunately, the consciousness of genocide and apartheid continues to be fostered by the insensitive use of demeaning and degrading symbols, mocking indigenous peoples. This must cease in order for reconciliation to have any meaning and substance.

Tribunal adjudicator Jo-Anne Pickel ruled last month that “the applicant has asserted a sufficient personal interest to have standing to bring this application.”

If Cardinal wins his court case, the Indians would have to wear uniforms absent the word “Indians” and the Wahoo imagery while playing the Blue Jays in Canada. Which they already kind of do anyway, as the club has uniforms with “Cleveland” across the chest and it has adopted a block C logo where the Wahoo logo used to be in perpetuity.

We’ve written about Chief Wahoo, the Braves’ “tomahawk chop,” and even the Redskins in various capacities over the years. So it’s no surprise when we say we side with Cardinal. There’s simply no upside in this day and age to continue to use words and imagery that are blatantly offensive. It’s not smart from a business perspective, as it alienates certain groups of consumers. It’s not smart from a practical standpoint, as teams’ front office personnel use precious time and resources fighting superfluous court battles. And, most important of all, it’s not smart from a humanity standpoint. With so many words and images available with which to brand one’s team, why settle on those that mock disenfranchised groups of people?

Baseball’s audience is the oldest on average compared to other popular sports, and it’s very white and male. So, it’s no surprise that a lot of baseball fans hate the thought of the Cleveland Indians changing its name and mascot. But those people will eventually die off. Today’s youth, which is relatively more concerned about issues of racism, will grow up and have spending power, and Major League Baseball will want them sitting in ballpark seats. MLB will have trouble courting them with racist iconography. Even if the humanity argument doesn’t persuade one — which it should, full stop — the business angle should be convincing enough to anyone involved in fighting this battle to preserve Chief Wahoo that it’s a lost cause.

Giants fans will have to pay a surcharge to park at Athletics games

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Athletics president Dave Kaval is ready to take full advantage of the interleague series between the Giants and A’s this season. While the two teams customarily play a few preseason “Battle of the Bay” games each year, they’re also scheduled to meet each other six times during the regular season; once for a three-game set in San Francisco, then for a three-game set in Oakland. On Saturday, Kaval announced that any Giants fans looking to park at the Coliseum this year will be charged $50 instead of the standard, general admission $30 — an additional “rivalry fee” that can be easily waived by shouting, “Go A’s!” at the gate.

This isn’t the first time that a major-league team has tried to keep rival fans at bay, though Kaval doesn’t seem all that intent on actually driving fans away from the ballpark. Back in 2012, the Nationals staged a “Take Back the Park” campaign after people began complaining that Phillies fans were overtaking Nationals Park during rivalry games. They limited a single-series presale of Nats-Phillies tickets to buyers within Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia in hopes of filling the stands with a few more friendly faces. Washington COO Andy Feffer told the press that while he would treat all guests with “respect and courtesy,” he wanted Phillies fans to feel irked enough to pay attention to the Nationals. In the end, things went… well, a little south for all involved.

Whether the Giants are planning any retaliatory measures has yet to be seen, but it’s not as if this is going to be an enforceable rule. The real travesty here, if you’re an A’s fan or just pretending to be one, is that the parking fees have increased from $20 to $30 this season. Unless you’re a season ticket holder with a prepaid $10 parking permit, it’s far better to brave the crowds and take advantage of local public transportation. There are bound to be far fewer irate Giants fans on BART than at the gates — even if the gag only lasts a few days out of the year.