Hi! I’ve been sitting on this post for a bit. To be honest, I mostly finished writing it way back on October 14, 2019. This was not long after Game 5 of the 2019 NLDS division title game that the Braves lost to the Cardinals 13 to 1… and the Cardinals got 10 of those points at the top of the first fucking inning!
Holy shit I’m still mad about that.
Anyways… you may be wondering if I’m writing anything about the Pandemic. The answer is no, I’m not. I don’t know what to write about. I’m still not interested in writing about the Lying Cheeto Muffin, ranting about conspiracy theorists and ignorant assholes seems counter-productive and a waste of time, and all the rest of it is just me shouting UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE NOW! RIGHT NOW! THIS FUCKING SECOND! $1200 ONCE IS NOT ENOUGH FUCKING MONEY! IT SHOULD BE $2400 A FUCKING MONTH FOR… EVER. UNIVERSAL HOUSING! WATER SHOULD BE FREE! DOWN WITH CAPITALISM! SEIZE THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION! UNIONIZE! RESIST!
So yeah… that’s really all I have to say about COVID-19.
And yes, I know it’s April 1st. “April Fool’s Day” is a thing that needs to die. I refuse to participate and I’d appreciate it if y’all left me out of it.
I don’t have that much interest in sports. Gridiron (US-American “Football”… in which feet are not used except in one instance), Basketball, Hockey, Golf, etc just hold no interest for me. I get them… I can follow them… I’m just bored by them, and don’t like playing them, either. There is one exception, however, and that’s Baseball. But even there, that exception is quite limited.
I grew up in Atlanta, GA. My family has always been a Baseball family, and the Atlanta Braves (along with the New York Yankees, but to a slightly lesser extent) has always been the family team. I even have a Braves batting jersey (I won it). I have always been a fan. And of course, as a fan, this past decade has been immensely infuriating. We couldn’t give Bobby Cox, Chipper Jones, or even, most recently, Brian McCann, a goddamn Pennant… let alone a World Series win. Our most recent loss to the Cardinals (13 to 1… and the Cardinals got 10 of those runs in the top of the first fucking inning) was so absolutely devastating that I didn’t even watch the post-season. I stopped caring.
I did care just enough to rant about the game in a Facebook group I belong to, though, and someone made a comment basically saying that as long as the team and its fans continue to be racist against Native Americans, they (the person who wrote the comment) will continue to gloat over the Braves’ losses anywhere and everywhere it’s even barely appropriate.
As much as I love the Atlanta Braves… that person is entirely correct. It’s time to end the Atlanta Braves as we know them.
Before we get to the chop, let’s start with the name. According to the Native Circle website, calling a Native American man a “Brave” is offensive.
It plays on the ‘noble courageous savage’ stereotype that was pinned on Indigenous men long ago by early Europeans. Unfortunately, those stereotypes still exist today. It also dehumanizes and equates the Native American male to something less than a man.
They compare it to calling a Black man a “Boy”. So while the word “Brave” is not necessarily as offensive as the word “R**s**n” (although that comparison is very much limited and depends on so many factors), it’s still an incredibly offensive term.
So what could you call the Atlanta Braves? There’s one article I found titled “What Would We Name The Team Today?”, posted on the Hardball Times. It gives a breakdown for most of the Baseball teams, whether or not the teams should change their names, and if so, what they’d be named today. I love their name for the Atlanta Braves… the Atlanta Roots.
Read the article to see their logic for that and all their renamings. Personally, I think Atlanta Roots is great. It can have so many different meanings, there’s nothing offensive about it, and it really does represent Atlanta and Georgia. So personally, Atlanta Roots is a decent renaming.
Another option comes from an article over at SBNation: Atlanta Hammers. (I didn’t realize how they used the word “queer”, BTW. I’m not sure how I missed it, originally, but I do apologize for that. Reminder that homophobia is not welcome, here. Unfortunately, this is the only source I can find suggesting this name as a replacement.)
The connection? It honors the Braves’ own Hank “The Hammer” Aaron, one of the greatest (if not the greatest) Baseball players of all-time. Throw the number 44 on the sleeves of all the Jerseys, and… actually?… I like it better than Roots.
Those don’t have to be the only options… but I’m terrible at thinking up names myself, and given the fact that I love the team, I want them to be serious, positive, and powerful without being negative (which rules out any names for “South” that also attach to the Confederacy, like “Dixies”).
I won’t focus on the mascot because the Braves actually gave it up a few years ago. Now it’s just the name over the tomahawk. Yes, that’s still “offensive” to a point, but nothing like the disgusting Native American stereotype that existed for years before it. Of course, with a name change comes a new mascot, but otherwise, we’re okay-ish here.
So let’s get to Ye Olde Tomahawk Chop…
Ryan Helsley is a reliever for the St. Louis Cardinals (and a damn good one). He also happens to be a member of the Cherokee Nation. Of the Chop, he said the following…
”I think it’s a misrepresentation of the Cherokee people or Native Americans in general,” Helsley said Friday afternoon at SunTrust Park. “Just depicts them in this kind of caveman-type people way who aren’t intellectual. They are a lot more than that. It’s not me being offended by the whole mascot thing. It’s not. It’s about the misconception of us, the Native Americans, and it devalues us and how we’re perceived in that way, or used as mascots. The R**s**ns and stuff like that.
“That’s the disappointing part,” he continued in a conversation with The Post-Dispatch. “That stuff like this still goes on. It’s just disrespectful, I think.”
It should be noted that the Chop itself is not an original thing with the Braves. It migrated from Florida, of course, where the Seminole tribe gave the Florida State football team (and the entire athletics department) written permission to use the Chop and other Seminole imagery at games and in promotions. Braves fans “borrowed” the Chop, bringing it to Atlanta. It became prominent during the 90s when the Braves were the hottest team in the country. So it’s not even original to the Braves team.
In response to Helsley’s comments, the Braves management did not provide foam Tomahawks for Game 5 of the 2019 NLDS division title between the Braves and the Cardinals. This was the game that the Braves lost 13 to 1. Over on the Braves’ subreddit, many people participating in the live thread blamed that very thing, and some even attacked Helsley himself. None of those attacks that I personally saw were overtly racist, but they definitely called him an “SJW” and branded him a member of the “PC Police”. There was a lot of crying about “libcucks” and so on, as well. There was also a lot of complaining that the name and chant aren’t racist… they’re “tradition”. Because… somehow… as soon as something becomes a “tradition”, it’s no longer racist.
I don’t think I have to explain why the argument of “tradition” is worthless, but indulge me for a brief moment. The concept of “tradition” actually angers me quite a bit. I don’t think “tradition” is a good thing. I do understand its usefulness in human culture, but I also believe that blind, dogmatic devotion to “tradition” causes more harm than good for humanity over-all. “Tradition” also exists as possibly the single worst reason to keep something that should not be kept. In this case, “tradition” is literally the only real argument that people have for keeping the Atlanta Braves as a name and the Tomahawk Chop. There is no evidential or even cultural appeal to keeping these things going forward other than “tradition”. And “tradition” is simply not convincing as an argument.
Plus, there’s the fact that the Chop didn’t actually become a thing until, again, the 1990s. So it’s not like the Chop has a long history with the Braves or anything like that (but even it did, that would still be a shitty argument).
Yes, changing the name means a lot of work. It means that all of the Braves’ marketing and paraphernalia becomes obsolete. For obsessives fans who may have spent hundreds, if not thousands, in Braves jerseys, collector’s items, and so on, it could be seen as a personal blow to their pride. Of course, it would also retroactively make that stuff far more valuable as it becomes increasingly rare over the years, but they won’t see that in the short-term. Those who are “true fans”, who may want to stay current, will also find it inconvenient to have to go out and buy brand new jerseys, collectibles, and so on with the new name, logo, and so on. Then there’s the park itself, which will basically have to be repainted and, in some cases, completely rebuilt. All forms of advertising will have to be redone, logos throughout the city, state, and country will have to change, and so on.
This change is not a small one. But it can be done, and I think it should be done.
Edit: Sorry this edit is late, but Rhiannon at Intransitive wrote an awesome response a while back that y’all should read…