UPDATED, with comment from White House: The Cleveland Indians announced a name change to the Cleveland Guardians, unveiling the name in a video narrated by Tom Hanks that the team posted on its social media account.
The franchise had announced that it planned to change its name, after complaints that using the Cleveland Indians — its name for more than 100 years — was racially insensitive.
“You see, it’s always been Cleveland that is the best part of our name,” Hanks says in the video. “And now it is time to unite as one family, one community, to build the next era for this team, and this city, to keep watch and guard what makes this game the greatest.”
Together, we are all… pic.twitter.com/R5FnT4kv1I
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 23, 2021
Cleveland’s baseball team is the latest sports franchise to change its name amid concerns of playing into racial stereotypes. Last year, the Washington Redskins abandoned its name in favor of a placeholder, the Washington Football Team, as they decide on a permanent replacement. There also has been criticism of other team names, including the Atlanta Braves and the Kansas City Chiefs.
In a statement, the team said that it decided on the name after surveying more than 40,000 fans. The name Guardians took its inspiration from a city landmark.
“We heard this name often from our fans as a top contender because of it’s connection to the iconic Cleveland landmark — The Hope Memorial Bridge that stands just outside of our ballpark where the Guardians of Traffic have become a symbol of the city’s resiliency,” the team said.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked about the team’s decision, and told reporters, “We certainly support their change of name.”
That was a contrast to his predecessor, Donald Trump, who said in a statement, “Such a disgrace, and I guarantee that the people who are most angry about it are the many Indians of our Country.”
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