The Cleveland Indians are dropping their long-criticized moniker amid mounting pressure that it’s racist and insensitive, but will keep the name for 2021 while a new one is chosen.
The New York Times originally reported the decision Sunday night, and team owner Paul Dolan confirmed it on Monday. However, he told the AP they will continue to use the name in 2021.
Cleveland owner Paul Dolan tells AP that team is dropping name but will continue to play as #Indians in 2021.
No new name chosen yet.
No interim name.
Tribe will not be a future option.
— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) December 14, 2020
The team will apparently not move forward without a nickname, as the NFL’s Washington Football Team did this season after changing its much-criticized former moniker. Cleveland’s team Twitter account also released a statement saying the club will finding a “non-Native American based name.”
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) December 14, 2020
‘Indians’ to remain in 2021
The franchise initially plans to continue using “Indians” and related branding for the 2021 season before phasing it out in 2022.
The franchise has gone by “Indians” since 1915, but has long faced pressure from Native American groups and others to drop the moniker. In 2018, the franchise announced that it was dropping its mascot and logo known as Chief Wahoo after MLB called it “no longer appropriate.”
Chief Wahoo was drawn as a grinning red caricature of a Native American. Its use on official team gear was phased out before the 2019 season.
Will pressure mount on Braves, Blackhawks?
Like the Washington Football Team before it, Cleveland’s MLB team has long resisted calls to change the nickname. The Washington Football team relinquished to social and sponsor pressure prior to the start of the 2020 NFL season amid the racial reckoning in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police.
It appears that heightened awareness and shifting cultural norms have swayed Cleveland management, as well.
After the Washington Football Team announced its decision, Cleveland announced in July that it would consider making the name change.
“We are committed to making a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality,” a team statement read.
The decision will ramp up pressure for franchises like the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Blackhawks to make similar name changes.
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