The Braves host the Cardinals for Game 5 of the National League Division Series Wednesday afternoon and those in attendance and watching on television might notice a difference in the cheering by the home fans.
Earlier in the series, Cardinals reliever Ryan Helsley spoke out against the "tomahawk chop" that is carried out in Braves home games in SunTrust Park. Helsley, who is a Cherokee native, said the chop is a "misrepresentation," a "misconception" and is "disrespectful."
Every single seat in SunTrust Park had a foam tomahawk for home fans, so they could take part in the chant. As it turns out, that won't be the case for Game 5. The Braves released the following statement prior to Game 5, via Yahoo Sports:
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.
It'll be interesting to see how, if at all, Major League Baseball handles this given its complicated history with things of this nature, such as the Chief Wahoo logo and its likeness on official Indians merchandise. If the situation with the Braves and the tomahawk chop continues to be a hot-button topic, commissioner Rob Manfred might have to get involved as well.