13 July 2010

SPORT / Chief Wahoo : The Curse of Cleveland

Image from Newspaper Rock

Most racist logo in sports:
Has Chief Wahoo again cursed Cleveland?

By Harvey Wasserman / The Rag Blog / July 13, 2010

CLEVELAND -- Another tomahawk has sailed into the hearts of Cleveland sports fans. Is it the work of Chief Wahoo, the most racist logo in all of sports? Has the ridiculous, buck-toothed profoundly offensive caricature of a single-feathered native poked yet another hole in Cleveland's soul?

Mark Welsh, part Ho-de-no-sau-nee (Iroquois) and part Lakota (Sioux) might say so. Mark is a mainstay of the native community in Ohio's capital. For years he's joined other activists when the season opens in Cleveland. They picket in protest of a cartoon they find deeply offensive.

In response, Cleveland Indian fans throw beer at them.

It's time to reconsider.

The departure of LeBron James from the Cavaliers is a death blow. Barring a miracle, no major sports franchise in this tough, depressed lake town has even a remote shot at a league title in the near future.

Not since the glory days of the football Browns and their great running back, Jim Brown, has there been a champion in Cleveland. The Browns and Cavs have both threatened since. The Indians twice came within a run of winning the World Series. The details are too heartbreaking to recount.

How about a name change? How about dumping that logo? How about a powwow with the native community to find a new spirit and image? It's been a welcome, long overdue trend in college sports. And it'd give Cleveland something -- ANYTHING!!! -- to talk about beside LeBron's jump to the beach.

While at Syracuse, Jim Brown played Lacrosse with the great Ho-de-no-sau-nee spiritual leader Oren Lyons. Let's get him and Jim together, organize a transformation of the name, face, and soul of Cleveland baseball, and move on.

A public renaming would be a magnificent gesture at a time like this. An act of contrition, and of grace. Our nation's capital could then strip the "Redskins" off that football team, an unconscionable epithet in this day and age.

Along the way, of course, we'd like to see communities finally own the sports teams whose billionaire speculators demand free stadiums, huge tax breaks, and the right to abuse the fans who love them with reckless abandon.

But in the meantime... how about it, Cleveland?... let's bury Chief Wahoo! We can be absolutely certain that whatever comes next will be better.

Mitakuye Oyasin.

[Harvey Wasserman's History of the United States is at. www.harveywasserman.com]

Photo by Mike Simons / Getty Images.

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