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Cleveland Indians No More

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The Cleveland Indians baseball team will change its name to the “Cleveland Guardians” after the end of the 2021 season. The team’s name has been a matter of ongoing controversy, although they did change their logo some time ago. As would be expected, there are those who see the change as good and those who are very angry about the change. As would also be expected, some are trying to make the name change another battlefield in the absurd culture war of the right. Perhaps someday we will have memorials to those lost in the Battle of Mr. Potato Head and the brave souls fighting in the Dr. Seuss War. While no one can claim a neutral lens, it is reasonable to point out that sports teams do change their names. The Cleveland Indians went through many name changes prior to arriving at their current name. As such, there is nothing unusual about a sports team changing its name. This is not to deny that some people get angry over any name change; but it is informative to look at the nature and focus of the anger that arises around such changes. It is also interesting to look at efforts to claim the name is not problematic because it was meant as a compliment. In terms of the name change, the neutral facts are that the owner of the club wanted the name changed from “Naps” after the star player Nap Lajoie left the team. The controversy arises in terms of why “Indians” was selected. One story is that “Indians” was a nickname applied to the Cleveland Spiders when Penobscot Tribe member Louis Sockalexis played for the team. Being from Old Town, Maine (which is near where Sockalexis was born) I have often heard this story.  While appealing to some, this seems unlikely, given that Sockalexis is not mentioned as the reason for the change in any contemporary stories about the name change. While this could be simply a repeated oversight, it would be odd to claim that the team was named after a person who was never mentioned as the reason for the change in the stories about the team. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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