The New York Mets planned on honoring Native Americans with an upcoming event, however a lapse in planning wound up offending the very group they were hoping to celebrate. The event that came off as offensive is Native American Heritage Day at Citi Field, scheduled for July 25
For the event the team reached out to AICH, or the American Indian Community House, a non-profit organization located in New York City. The organization was initially on board to team up with the Mets and put on the event. They were honored to take part, the offense occurred after the plans were set.
That was until the Mets realized a scheduling issue for the event on July 25. The Atlanta Braves are coming to town that day. Apparently no one within the organization thought to look at their team’s schedule before selecting a date.
The New York Times reported that:
“There was a glitch, as far as the Mets were concerned: they were scheduled to host the Atlanta Braves that day. So in the past week, concerned that such activities might be interpreted by the Braves organization as a form of protest over its nickname, the Mets drastically reduced the day’s activities: no singing, no dancing. And now there won’t be any American Indians, either.
On Monday, the A.I.C.H. pulled out of the event, citing frustration with the Mets for thwarting months of planning. The team has removed the event from its online schedule of activities.”
Out of fear of offending the Braves, the Mets would in turn offend the very group they intended to honor. The team thought that having Native American Heritage Day while the Braves were in town would be seen as a political move designed to pressure the Atlanta franchise to change its Native American themed name.
To prevent coming off as a political move targeting another team, the Mets decided to scale back the originally planned festivities. The drastic scale back removed singing, dancing, and and participation by Native Americans themselves. A spokesperson for the team explained the team’s reasoning, saying the Mets “opted to forgo the group sale in this case as our multicultural days and nights are celebratory versus political in nature.”
The AICH and its Deputy Director Kevin Tarrant pulled out of the event, which is no longer posted on the team’s website. They described their feelings towards the Mets actions as “feel[ing] like we’re being marginalized again within our own community.” The groups mission is to “cultivate awareness, understanding and respect” for thousands of American Indians who live in New York City.”
From Tarrant and the AICH’s perspective the event was not political, only a celebration of their culture. “It wasn’t like we were planning to protest anything,” Tarrant explained. “We just thought it would be great to show natives in a positive light — that we’re human beings, and we’re not from 300 years ago. We’re visible.” He added: “It was a win-win situation. We’d be supporting the Mets, the Braves and Major League Baseball.”
Rick Chavolla, the Education and Development officer for the AICH was saddened by the cancellation of the event, saying “not a lot of people invite us to step on a great stage like that,” Chavolla said. “We were really looking forward to it.”
Only the Mets could screw up an event like this in such a Mets-like fashion. For a team that perennially struggles to achieve success, this event appeared to be a no brainer way to receive some good publicity. However thanks to an oversight in scheduling and a bungled reaction to it, they wound up offending the very Native Americans they had hoped to honor.
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Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express