An Ohio sheriff is drawing ire and support after speaking out against the upcoming name change for the Cleveland Indians baseball team, which he describes as an attack on America’s culture.
Portage County sheriff Bruce Zuchowski waded into the debate Saturday, using his office’s official Facebook page to share a statement he wrote regarding the Major League Baseball franchise’s decision to drop its “Indians” moniker in favor of “Guardians” after the 2021 season.
The decision comes as certain professional sports teams have faced mounting pressure to change their names and mascots away from racist or offensive caricatures and branding.
Team owner Paul Dolan said the conversation around social justice and unrest following the 2020 killing of George Floyd by police helped push him to make the change, McClatchy News reported.
“I felt compelled to make a statement on behalf of the silent majority,” Zuchowski said.
Admittedly, Zuchowski says, he hasn’t watched professional sports in three years, as he has boycotted them — but still, the baseball team’s decision to change its century-old name “has been weighing heavy on (his) mind with disappointment and hopelessness.”
Baseball is a uniquely American tradition, he says, and it is being undermined and uprooted.
“This is once again another attempt of trying to erase our history due to the outcry of the few that affects the many,” Zuchowski’s statement said.
He goes on to say that his wife has Native American heritage, and that she and her family were never offended by the Cleveland Indians, but were in fact proud of it, viewing it as their “hometown baseball franchise.”
Zuchowski then calls on legislators and others in positions of power to “think about the majority of their constituents before caving to the impulsive demands being made by a small group of the public.”
The sheriff’s words have gained traction on Facebook, and were shared 2,400 times as of Sunday afternoon, with nearly 8,000 comments weighing in.
While he’s found plenty who agree with him, and some who promised to cast their vote for him in the next county sheriff’s election, others pushed back.
“Your personal life/thoughts have no business being tied to your position/SERVICE to the county,” one commenter wrote.
“Sheriff snowflake,” said another.
The team narrowed a long list of potential names before settling on Guardians, McClatchy News reported.