ATLANTA , The World Series has moved to Atlanta and the haunting chants are now impossible to ignore.
You are about to go back in time, in a very unfortunate manner.
The Braves, while the majority of the world is moving forward, are sticking to the past. They hope that any opposition to their nickname or the tomahawk chop will somehow just disappear, or at the very least be drowned out in the 40,000 fans waving their arms and droning along in unison, like extras in a 1950s John Wayne movie.
Major League Baseball's bold move to yank the All-Star Game from Atlanta because of new voting restrictions suddenly seems about as progressive as Kenesaw Mountain Landis' tortured defense of their team.
This much is certain: The Braves will not be able to turn this issue in their favor.
It's not now. Not next season. Not in 100 years.
James O'Rourke from Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business said, "This is an essential moment for the Atlanta Braves." They must recognize that this problem will not go away.
Commissioner Rob Manfred attempted to provide some cover. However, he called it "a local problem" and insisted that only one tribe in North Carolina could support the Braves. This only served to fuel the fires.
The Braves and their conspirator are simply on the wrong side history. They're not like those who continue to defend Confederate statues and flags as peaceful symbols of Southern heritage.
There is no turning back, no matter how many people try to block the way.
Fawn Sharp, President of the National Congress of American Indians, stated that "we have repeatedly and unambiguously made our position clear -- Native Americans are not mascots and degrading rituals such as the tomahawk cut that dehumanize us and harm us have absolutely no place in American society."
This message has been received by a lot of people in the sports industry, even if it was somewhat reluctantly.
Washington's NFL team has finally given up on its racist nickname after insisting for many years that it wouldn't alter a nickname that was literally offensive to the dictionary.
The Cleveland Indians did the same, changing their name from the Guardians to reflect their new identity heading into 2022.
Even though the Braves are not as socially progressive than other Atlanta sports teams, the Braves seemed to be on the right track during the 2019 playoffs. A rival pitcher who was a Cherokee Nation member called the tomahawk song insulting.
Red foam tomahawks were not distributed by the team prior to the decisive Game 5 in their NL Division Series. This was "out of respect" for Ryan Helsley, the St. Louis reliever.
However, some Braves fans reacted negatively to the move and claimed it was a hex on their team. This led to the Cardinals scoring 10 runs in the first inning and ending Atlanta's season. The front office quickly stopped any attempts to drown out the protest.
It was not an issue during the 2020 pandemic-shortened season when there were no stadiums and games were played in them.
While we're on the subject, won't even bother to bring up the question of Braves ownership changing their name. This is a non-starter even though the franchise's 145-year-old history has seen five other nicknames (Did they know that they were called the Bees in late 1930s?
The Braves insist that their current nickname, which dates back to 1912, when they called Boston home, isn't offensive or demeaning to Native Americans. They rely heavily on the support of the North Carolina-based Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians for this.
Few federally recognized tribes remain in the Deep South, and none in Georgia. This is due to the fact that most of the region’s Native Americans were expelled in the "Trail of Tears" in the 1800s. It left thousands of people starving and dying from disease and starvation.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are a remnant of the Cherokee Nation that was forced westward. They have now agreed to be part of the Braves' plan to keep their name, their tomahawk logo, and the tomahawk chop that used to cheer for them.
Harrah's Cherokee Casino is a significant sponsor of the Braves. Principal Chief Richard Sneed insists that the two issues do not have any connection.
He stated that the group's tacit support for the Braves logo, nickname and cheer is "an occasion to bring awareness and shine spotlight on the larger issues facing the Indian nation," such as poverty and unemployment.
Manfred stated that the Eastern Band of Cherokees is only one of 576 federally recognised tribes in the country.
Manfred said that the Native American community of that region is supportive of the Braves program, including the chop. He apparently skipped the Trail of Tears section of his U.S. History class. "That's for me the end of this story."
Manfred also maintained that baseball was a sport that is only promoted locally, without any national or international considerations. This implies that there is no reason for people outside of the Atlanta or Houston markets to view the World Series, despite Fox spending billions in national TV rights.
Manfred argued that "we don't market the game on a national basis." This may be why the national pastime seems to be dying.
Manfred's blather aside, the Braves, or perhaps we should just call them the Atlanta Baseball Club, ABC's for short, would be better served over the long term if they removed all Native American imagery.
While there would be some resistance from Braves' largely-white fan base, we believe the issue will quickly disappear if the team continues to win NL East titles in a consistent manner. This would be a great opportunity to reach younger, more diverse audiences.
O'Rourke stated that "the people who accept the old order are aging away from the demographic." "Young people who are open to multiplicity and who prefer a heterogeneous work environment, as well as those who value equity and diversity, are the people you want to attract into your demographic."
Although it hurts for a while when you pull off a Band-Aid bandage, the pain will soon go away.
Let's get started.
A new nickname? What about The Hammers in honor of Hank Aaron, the greatest player?
What about a new logo? A hammer would look great in the spot currently occupied by the tomahawk.
What's the new cheer? Nothing but the tomahawk chop.