The Cleveland Indians, the Major League Baseball team based in Ohio, reportedly plans to drop its name as soon as this week, which would make them the second major league sports team to remove a reference to Native Americans from its team name in 2020.
The New York Times, citing three people who spoke on the condition of anonymity, reports that the decision has already been made to change the team’s name and could be announced later in the week. It’s not clear when the name change would take effect.
One person, however, told the Times that the change could come in stages rather than all at once, with the team name sticking for the 2021 season. The MLB team would then have more time to make changes to Cleveland Indian-branded products, equipment, and gear.
The Wall Street Journal also reported Sunday evening that the MLB team will change its name, citing “a person familiar with the matter.”
Two people familiar with the decision told the Times that the team may go the route of the Washington Football Team, formerly known as the Washington Redskins, and scrap its name before finalizing a replacement for it. Around the same time as the Washington Football Team decided to review their former name, the Cleveland Indians suggested that they would also explore a possible name change for themselves.
“We have had ongoing discussions organizationally on these issues. The recent 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,” said the team in a statement. “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.”
“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 statement concluded.
The July statement was framed as a commitment to make “a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality,” and came at a time when various organizations were taking stances in favor of social justice.
The NFL’s Baltimore Ravens took an even bolder stance in August when they directly implicated the U.S. as having racism “embedded in the fabric” of its founding and called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to bring a Democratic House-passed piece of policing legislation to a vote on the Senate floor.
Back in June, when Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), who is black, unveiled a policing bill endorsed by a handful of Republican senators to counter that very proposal, Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) trashed it as “so threadbare and lacking in substance that it does not even provide a proper baseline for negotiations.”
Scott’s policing legislation ultimately wasn’t passed.
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