Several Cleveland Indians fans encouraged to ‘Rock Your Red,’ for the team’s wild-card playoff game last night took things too far.
The Cleveland fans were captured on the TBS broadcast dressed up like the team’s mascot, Chief Wahoo. They wore Cleveland baseball jerseys, painted their faces and necks red, and and wore feathered headdresses. (Click here for video of the fans)
This incident comes in the midst of the hotly contested debate over a name change for the Washington Redskins. The team’s owner, Dan Snyder, has said that he will ‘never’ change the team’s name, despite numerous media organizations, U.S. lawmakers and Native American groups calling for him to change it.
The Oneida Nation, NFL sponsors, recently announced plans to convene in Washington, D.C. during the NFL’s fall meeting next week to garner more support in its campaign to convince Snyder to change his mind. The Indians’ mascot has also been the subject of protests by Cleveland fans.
Twitter was fluttering over the Cleveland Indians incident. Brandon Lott wrote, "Indians fans dress up in red face for Wild Card game exactly why I stopped supporting my home team." MLB Memes posted an image that said, "That Awkward Moment When You Are Racist on National Television.” And Rusty Ryan wrote, “Who's the idiot that thought this was a good idea?"
ThinkProgress.org questioned whether TBS was desensitized to how offensive the image was because of its close affiliation to the Atlanta Braves. "TBS’s founder, Ted Turner, used to own the Atlanta Braves, and the network used to broadcast the Braves’ every game. TBS played a major part in making the Tomahawk Chop a thing during the Braves’ worst-to-first playoff run in 1991 and during Atlanta’s incredible stretch of 15 consecutive division titles thereafter. If TBS doesn’t see a problem with this sort of dress-up, it isn’t hard to understand why," wrote Travis Waldron from Think Progress.
According to NBCSports.com, the Indians have "absolutely no plans to phase out Chief Wahoo."