Major League Baseball (MLB) made an unprecedented announcement about its Cleveland Indians World Series championship gear that has this writer scratching his head.
By now, we all know the Indians did not win the World Series. The new world champion is the Chicago Cubs, which broke their 108-year championship drought.
MLB and other major American sports typically manufacture clothing for both franchises in a championship so that the minute the game is over, fans can buy authentic, officially-licensed merchandise to commemorate their favorite team's win.
I know I have bought commemorative gear in the last week, as a diehard Chicago Cubs fan.
Usually, without fail, most major American sports donate the losing team's merchandise to charities that give out the clothing to people who need clothes in underdeveloped countries. There really is no use for the clothing in the U.S. after a team has lost. No one wants a reminder that their team lost the big game.
However, this year, the MLB has decided not to partner up with long-time partner and Christian charity, World Vision, to donate the clothing. Instead, the MLB will be destroying all Indians championship merchandise.
“In past years we have used World Vision, but we have moved our policy to destroying the merchandise,” MLB’s Matt Bourne told the Huffington Post. “The reason is to protect the team from inaccurate merchandise being available or visible in the general marketplace.”
The reason given by Bourne seems legitimate, considering the amount of foreign companies that sell discarded, irregular, third-party or knock-off items of major American sports teams.
Another reason brought up was that clothing like this might hurt developing markets in the case that the clothing donated stunts the sales of local clothing merchants.
However, World Vision charity spokesman Jim Fischerkeller noted donations, such as the ones American sports organizations make, help divert funds from those originally allocated to clothing and helps the organization focus on other areas of need.
“The apparel items that we send have all been requested by our staff in the field as part of a larger relief and development strategy,” Fischerkeller said. “Fulfilling the basic need for clothing enables vital resources to be directed towards other life essentials, such as clean water, health services and education.”
I love baseball, and the MLB, but this doesn’t seem like a great public relations move.
Originally, I thought this was a cut and dry issue. There was nothing anyone could do about it, and that was that. If it had not had been for the faux outrage of the Huffington Post writer, Sarah Ruiz-Grossman, I would not have come up with a possible ulterior motive for the move the MLB has made.
But there is one upside to their destruction: Fewer items will exist in the world with the Indians’ “Chief Wahoo” mascot, which Native communities have long protested as offensive.
Ah-ha! Could there possibly be a different motive involving the MLB of not wanting to offend or “trigger” those in underdeveloped countries? Is the “Chief Wahoo” logo so offensive that people who have no idea why the logo even exists would deny free and new clothing?
Do people in the underdeveloped country even know what “trigger warnings” are?
All the answers to this and more in the next episode of, “Why am I offended today?”