- The Cleveland Indians said Friday that the team was considering changing its name in a bid to promote social justice.
- A statement released Friday said the team would be engaging “appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.”
- The decision was inspired by “the recent social unrest in our community and our country has only underscored the need for us to keep improving as an organisation on issues of social justice,” the statement read.
- The team’s announcement came shortly after the Washington Redskins announced it would be conducting a “thorough review” of its name following demands from affiliated companies and lawmakers.
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The Cleveland Indians appear to be the latest team weighing a rebrand.
In a statement released online Friday, the team said it was reacting to a renewed push for institutions across the US to reevaluate offensive symbols and would be working to “determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.”
“We are committed to making a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality,” the statement read. “Our organisation fully recognises our team name is among the most visible ways in which we connect with the community.”
The team went on to say that “ongoing discussions” within the franchise had been propelled by recent protests and discussions across the US in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody.
“The recent social unrest in our community and our country has only underscored the need for us to keep improving as an organisation on issues of social justice,” the statement read.
The statement added: “While the focus of the baseball world shifts to the excitement of an unprecedented 2020 season, we recognise our unique place in the community and are committed to listening, learning, and acting in the manner that can best unite and inspire our city and all those who support our team.”
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 4, 2020
The Athletic‘s Ken Rosenthal and Zack Meisel reported that the announcement was an unprecedented move that meant the team is “prepared to consider changing the team name more seriously than they have before,” citing a source familiar with the club’s thinking.
The team “plans to consult with the Native American community, fans, players, alumni, and internal staff before making a decision,” the Athletic reported.
The team’s name is the second remaining piece of the team’s long-criticised branding that included its mascot, an offensive image reference to Native Americans known as “Chief Wahoo,” until the 2019 season. Protests ensued when the logo was retired, but the team had installed a red “C” as the main logo in 2014, the Athletic noted.
The Washington Redskins raised eyebrows a day before Cleveland’s announcement when the franchise said it would be conducting a “thorough review” of its name under mounting pressure from sponsors and lawmakers.
After stints under several other nicknames, Cleveland has gone by the name “Indians” since 1915.