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Cleveland discontinuing 'Chief Wahoo' logo 'small step in right direction' for society, sports marketing, professor says

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

LAWRENCE — The Cleveland Indians baseball team has announced it will no longer use the Chief Wahoo logo on uniforms, beginning in the 2019 season. Major League Baseball has said the image, a large-toothed, grinning caricature many find offensive, is no longer appropriate for use in the game.

The logo has appeared in several different forms since 1948, and many have called for its discontinuation for decades. Commissioner Rob Manfred reportedly pressured team chief executive Paul Dolan to make the change. Brian Gordon, assistant professor of health, sport & exercise science at the University of Kansas, can discuss the decision with media. Gordon studies athletic branding, marketing, retro branding and related topics. He can discuss the decision, its timing, the use of American Indian imagery in sports, Cleveland’s marketing, sports marketing and related topics.

“While I wish this move was effective for the 2018 season, this is a small step in the right direction to remove this racist caricature from mainstream society. However, the team will still be able to profit from the sales of Chief Wahoo merchandise, fans will still wear merchandise with his likeness to events and around the city, and fans will still engage in the war chant and dress in culturally insensitive attire at the game site,” Gordon said. “That is why I deem this a small step in the right direction.”

Gordon has also studied fan behavior and can comment on fans’ devotion to the logo. An alumnus of Florida State University who grew up near the University of Illinois and its Chief Illiniwek mascot, he can discuss use of indigenous mascots and logos in college sports as well.

To schedule an interview, contact Mike Krings at 785-864-8860 or mkrings@ku.edu.


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