Several professional sports teams have faced criticism due to their names amid ongoing discussions about racial inequality. The Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball are among this group, but the team has promised to make some changes. The Indians released a statement and said the team would address its controversial name.
"We are committed to making a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality," the team said in a statement. "Our organization fully recognizes our team name is among the most visible ways in which we connect with the community. We have had ongoing discussions organizationally on these issues. The recent social unrest in our community and our country has only underscored the need for us to keep improving as an organization on issues of social justice.
"With that in mind, we are committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name," the statement continued. "While the focus of the baseball world shifts to the excitement of an unprecedented 2020 season, we recognize 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."
The Indians previously made changes to its branding amid public outcry. The team removed the Chief Wahoo logo from the sleeves of the uniforms, as well as from other pieces of merchandise, and replaced it with a "C" in block text. Many fans viewed the logo's removal as a positive first step but still called for the MLB team to change its name.
The team began in 1901 as the Cleveland Blues. In 1902, the team switched to the Cleveland Broncos for one season. The organization then became the Cleveland Naps from 1903-14. In 1915, the team officially became known as the Indians and had remained so ever since.
This promise to examine the team name follows a surprising decision by the Washington Redskins. The NFL franchise announced on July 3 that it would review the name and mascot. Owner Dan Snyder has previously faced criticism for sticking with a name that many deem offensive but shied away from making any changes.
"In light of recent events around our country and feedback from our community, the Washington Redskins are announcing the team will undergo a thorough review of the team's name," the team statement read. "This review formalizes the initial discussions the team has been having with the league in recent weeks. [...] We believe this review can and will be conducted with the best interest of all in mind."