Looks like the feelings police have struck again and this time it hit America’s favorite pastime. Today when fans arrived at SunTrust Park for Game 5 of the National League Division Series, “the foam tomahawks that had been placed at each seat before games 1 and 2 of this series against the Cardinals were not there this time.”
The reason appears to be that Rookie player Ryan Helsley found the Braves’ ‘Tomahawk Chop’ chant a “disappointment” and found it disrespectful to his Cherokee heritage. Helsley, who is a Cardinals reliever player, was on the field during last week’s game against the Braves when the ‘Tomahawk Chop’ was chanted. Although the fans’ chanting had nothing to do with him, but rather with decades of tradition.
However, Helsley said after the game to media:
I think it’s a misrepresentation of the Cherokee people or Native Americans in general…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 Redskins and stuff like that.
The St. Louis Dispatch reported that two officials at the ballpark confirmed the foam tomahawks were not on the seats as a result of Helsley’s comments. A Braves spokesman said, “we’re sensitive to to it” and that there will be more changes during in-game entertainment and fan interaction involving the “chop.”
As a matter of fact, Atlanta issued an entire statement to the media regarding the changes:
Out of respect for the concerns expressed by Mr. Helsley, we will take several efforts to reduce the Tomahawk Chop during our in-ballpark presentation today. Among other things, these steps include not distributing foam tomahawks to each seat and not playing the accompanying music or using Chop-related graphics when Mr. Helsley is in the game. As stated earlier, we will continue to evaluate how we activate elements of our brand, as well as the overall in-game experience. We look forward to a continued dialogue with those in the Native American community after the postseason concludes.