Braves could ditch ‘Tomahawk Chop,’ but won’t change name

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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Braves are internally discussing whether or not to continue encouraging the use of the “Tomahawk Chop,” a rallying cry used by Braves fans at Truist Park. To do the “Tomahawk Chop,” fans imitate a Native American chant and wave a foam tomahawk or an empty hand back and forth. It is usually prompted by music played over the public address system.

MLB’s Braves and Indians, as well as the NFL’s Redskins and Chiefs and the NHL’s Blackhawks have received criticism in recent years for the use of Indian names and iconography. Last week, due to pressure from FedEx which holds the naming rights to their stadium, the Washington football team said it “will undergo a thorough review of the team’s name.” The Indians also released a statement, saying, “We are committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.”

The Braves most prominently received blowback about the “Chop” during the playoffs last year when Cardinals reliever Ryan Helsley — a member of Cherokee Nation — said, “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.” Helsley added that he felt the act is “disrespectful.” The Braves issued a public statement, removed foam tomahawks from their stadium, and promised not to instigate the “Chop” while Helsley pitched.

While the Braves may ditch the “Tomahawk Chop” (as well as rebrand their “Chop House” restaurant and “Tomahawk Team” spirit group), Rosenthal notes that the Braves have no intention to change the name of the team.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.