Indians Sacking “Wahoo” Logo Puts Squeeze On Redskins
Law360, January 31, 2018
Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred announced Monday that the Indians franchise, at his urging, would quit using the “Chief Wahoo” logo on team uniforms starting in 2019. Manfred said the logo, which is a cartoon of a grinning, red-skinned man wearing a feather, is “no longer appropriate for on-field use” in the league.
Entertainment and sports law expert, Glen A. Rothstein, CEO & Founding Partner of Rothstein Law APC, when asked for comment by Law360 stated “It’s more than a symbolic gesture. It is meaningful what they’re doing, but it’s not a home run for progressiveness. It’s maybe a double.” Rothstein added, “Things that were kept very hushed, whether it be Harvey Weinstein or [Larry] Nassar, leads to debate about other things kept quiet, including things like cultural insensitivity when it comes to sports teams and logos, and people are more empowered to speak up about it now.”
When asked whether he believed the Indians’ move would have any influence on Washington Redskins’ owner Daniel Snyder to take similar action involving his NFL team name and logo, which has been at the center of a longstanding firestorm of culturally charged negative feedback, according to Rothstein “[i]n the end, it might take an extraordinary circumstance to force Snyder’s hand, like a star player or top draft pick refusing to play for the team unless it changes its name. It’s going to be a combination of economics and conscience,” he added. “If [Snyder] was losing money and losing talent, then maybe he’d think about it.”