The New York Mets have managed to extend their on-field struggles in 2013 into their PR efforts. The hapless squad recently decided to cancel their planned Native American Heritage Day event, inadvertently offending a prominent American Indian organization in the process.
According to the New York Times, the Mets contacted the American Indian Community House, a nonprofit group in New York, in March to seek the organization’s aid in organizing its Native American Heritage Day. The event, scheduled for July 25, would have included a slate of pregame activities, including traditional American Indian singing and dancing outside of Citi Field in Queens.
But then Mets officials grew concerned that Native American Heritage Day fell on a day on which the home team was scheduled to play the Atlanta Braves, the Times reports. The franchise feared that the Braves would view the planned celebration as a protest against their team name, and decided to scale back the planned festivities; the singing, dancing, and appearances by American Indians were all canceled.
While the Mets avoided offending their rivals in Atlanta, they inadvertently snubbed the American Indian Community House in the process. On Monday, the organization decided to withdraw its participation in Native American Heritage Day, removing the event from its online schedule of coming events.
The AICH was frustrated by the Mets’ decision, which wasted months of planning. “Being a nonprofit in the city, we’re not in the business of making enemies,” Kevin Tarrant, deputy director of the AICH, told the Times. “This whole thing wasn’t even our idea. But it just feels like we’re being marginalized again within our own community.”
While the Mets’ scheduling of Native American Heritage Day on the same afternoon that the team was set to play the Braves was coincidental, Tarrant admitted that the potential political implications were hard to ignore.
“It wasn’t like we were planning to protest anything,” Tarrant said. “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. It was a win-win situation. We’d be supporting the Mets, the Braves and Major League Baseball.”