Braves Remove Foam Tomahawks from Fans' Seats After Ryan Helsley Comments

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 9, 2019

Atlanta Braves tomahawk's sit in seats ahead of Game 4 of baseball's National League Division Series between the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
John Bazemore/Associated Press

The Atlanta Braves did not place foam tomahawks in fans' seats at SunTrust Park ahead of Game 5 of the National League Division Series on Wednesday, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold.

Goold reported the move was a response to criticism from St. Louis Cardinals reliever Ryan Helsley regarding the "Tomahawk Chop" chant fans perform during games.

Helsley, who is a member of the Cherokee Nation, offered his thoughts on the tradition to Goold on Friday:

"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 Braves subsequently released a statement saying they "appreciate and take seriously" Helsley's concerns.

Goold added the franchise plans to make "other changes during the in-game entertainment and fan interaction involving the 'chop'" during Game 5.

The "Tomahawk Chop" originated in 1991 when Braves fans were cheering on Deion Sanders, who had played football for the Florida State Seminoles and who was also with the Atlanta Falcons at the time. The chant grew from there and became a staple at home games.

In January 2018, MLB announced the Cleveland Indians planned to discontinue wearing jerseys and hats with their Chief Wahoo logo starting with the 2019 season amid longstanding criticism it was a racist caricature. The Braves scrapped plans to use a batting practice hat with a similar logo in 2013.

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