INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — For the first time since 1915, the Cleveland Indians will be known by a different name. The team announced they will be changing their name to the Guardians. The move comes after backlash over racial issues surrounding their current monicker. It now has Indy Indians fans wondering if they are next?
“I think it’s a great idea, way past due,” says Indians fan Walker Zurschmeide, ““If it makes people happy, let’s take a less offensive stance.”
“I guess it’s something I grew accustomed to,” says fan Slade Stoute who would like to see the name stay, but expects a different outcome, “I do, I do. Just with what is going on in society right now.”
In July of 2020, the team put together a committee to discuss a potential name change The Indians say they have no update from the committee yet.
“I think finally is the right word to use. I think they are doing the right thing,” says IU sports psychologist Jesse Steinfeldt talking about Cleveland, “I think history will be on their side for this move.”
Steinfeldt says research shows mascots like these give younger Native Americans a negative perspective on who they can grow up to be. He adds that it’s not necessarily as offensive as it is psychologically harmful.
“There’s a concept in psychology called possible selves that speaks to what I see is a possibility for myself. So, by a limited range, I can’t see myself as Jesse the doctor, or Jesse the lawyer,” explains Stenfieldt, “These stereotypes have been shown to limit the possibilities for what I can be as a people as a person as a community.”
From a marketing standpoint, IU marketing professor Kim Donahue also expects the name to eventually change.
“From a marketing standpoint the first thing they are going to do is research the intensity of the opinion. Not really the intensity for or against it, but is the intensity enough to sway purchases or anything like that,” details Donahue, “I see the Cleveland Indians had no choice because they were up against the wall. The Indianapolis Indians are not in that position at this point and time, so it will be interesting to see what their research shows.”
The Cleveland Indians will keep their name for the remainder of this season, before making the change next year.