Yesterday, UniWatch had their first post of submissions for their new running contest. Their goal is to find the most creative idea for name changes for two of the more ridiculed Native American-based team names in all of sports: The Cleveland Indians and The Washington Redskins. With 35 entries in all for the Cleveland baseball team alone (the first half were revealed yesterday), I thought it would be a fun practice to point out some of the best in my opinion and touch upon if now is the time for a change.
Let me start by saying that if you had asked me this question as little as two years ago, you couldn’t find someone more opposed to a name change. The Indians were named to honor Louis Sockalexis, and the tradition of something nearly 100 years old is not something I’m willing to give up at the drop of a hat. In art class in elementary school, this writer with a lack of even a single artistic bone in his body took to drawing Chief Wahoo. I love wearing Wahoo gear, and even if there’s a name change, I’m not likely to stop wearing it. I even wrote a persuasive paper in high school chronicling why the Indians shouldn’t be forced to change their name. One of my arguments was that if you were going to make my baseball team give up their name, you’d have to take out the Fighting Irish, Vikings, Cowboys, Seminoles, Redskins, Chiefs, Fighting Illini, Braves, Celtics, and Warriors. I’m 12.5% Irish. Maybe I’m offended by the Fighting Irish and Celtics mascots. It’s an all or nothing proposition for me. Remove everything that could be even possibly misconstrued as politically incorrect if you’re going to do it at all.
Another thing I’m not a fan of is redrawing Chief Wahoo or keeping the name and ridding the team of The Chief. The C’s and the I’s are okay for secondary or tertiary logos, but not as the main one. We don’t need to have a hideously bland identity like the New York Giants. More than anything, I would have to be convinced of a new name and identity with a Cleveland history and identity, one that I wouldn’t feel is being shoved down our throats as Cleveland fans. This contest may have done just that for me.
Of the 17 entries that UniWatch showed in their first entry, six were for the name “Spiders”. The name was used from 1889-1899 in Cleveland in the National League. The team won the 1895 championship, and while most will remember the name for the worst record in MLB history in 1899 with a 20-134 mark, the name could get a second chance. It’s a fairly unique name, with the Richmond Spiders of the NCAA being the only one that comes to mind. There were also some really creative entries here that made me think, “Yea, I could roll with that.”
My favorite of the six Spider entries by Liam Burkholder:
I really like this entry for its simplicity and color scheme. For you CSU Vikings, I would think this is very eye-pleasing.
The other entry I believe is the most creative. It belongs to Daniel Irwin, who developed the idea of the “Blue Socks”, which combines elements of three past nicknames. The name references the “Blues” (1879-1884, 1887-1889, 1901), it has a Spider for the mascot, and it’s a tip of the cap to Louis Sockalexis, a Penobscot Indian. On top of being grammatically correct (yes, Sox is commonly accepted but given my disdain for those two franchises that use the name, I dislike it). The Spider mascot, Napoleon (seen below), has blue socks on each of his eight legs. What a creative way to combine historical elements and provide a new identity.
The third and final entry that I’ll highlight is the Cleveland Tribe, submitted by Douglas King. For those who don’t want to get rid of the Indians’ name, this may be a softer blow. I know that I myself refer to our baseball team as “The Tribe” far more than I do “Indians”.Keeping the same established red-blue color scheme that we’re accustomed to may not be the worst decision either. Nothing about “Tribe” has to necessarily be linked to Native Americans. One definition I found online: “A social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties”
The other entry names were Barons (two), Blues, Brown Sox, Rockers, Colts, Grays, Lakers, Moses, and Coasters. Do you guys have your own suggestion or like any of these better than the three I outlined? Let’s hear about in the comments section where I’m sure there will be plenty of passion both ways.