Once again it’s late October and we are left out of the World Series. I don’t buy into the superstitious camp that believes a Cherokee hex is haunting the Atlanta Braves. No, but I do believe we are spiritually undermining the team, our city, and ourselves by ignoring what we know is wrong.
It’s way past time for our Atlanta Braves to change its moniker! Certainly, it’s not as offensive as the ‘Redskins’, but it is in the same family of insult and insolence, just the milder, gentler version. Surely legacy and tradition is important, but in sports it certainly isn’t sacred. Franchises abandon cities and their names whenever the fields and the attendance appears greener, and only the deserted fans and towns cry foul. We started in Boston, moved to Milwaukee, and in 1966 embraced Atlanta, where thanks to Ted Turner, cable TV, and an extraordinary pitching staff, the Atlanta Braves became ‘America’s Team’ in the ’90’s.
Speaking of extraordinary players, isn’t it interesting that of all the former great Braves whose numbers have been retired, only Warren Spann and Chipper Jones finished their illustrious careers as Braves. Niekro, Murphy, Glavine, Smoltz, Maddux, and even Hank ‘The Hammer’ Aaron, all were traded or released to other teams before retiring. Just about business? Just about payroll? Perhaps, but that is a daunting list of revered ballplayers who are praised now but disregarded at the end of their careers. And that is my point. Holding onto a name and insignia that are insulting and disrespectful of another people is insensitive, and insensitivity is contagious and infectious. It spreads ( I’m sure Dan Uggla would agree).
It’s time for the Franchise, the City, and the fans to step up to the plate and make the necessary departure away from the defaming name and chant that ridicules us even more so than Native Americans. Here are my two suggestions that would restore our dignity and be virtually painless:
Embrace the current nickname “Bravos” and alter the ‘Tomahawk Chop’ to a standing ovation with an overhead handclap, or let’s just be courageous enough to drop the ‘s’ and become the Atlanta Brave, which will say loud and clear that we are bold enough, decent enough, and sensitive enough to do the right thing. Atlanta deserves to be “the Home of the Brave”.
Submitted by Plemon T. El-Amin