The tomahawk-chop chant began at Florida State University sometime in the mid-80s. Seminoles.com claims it started in the fraternity section of the football stadium during a game against Auburn in 1984.
If you’ve been near anyone who has ever watched a college football game in Florida since then, you’ve been involved in at least one discussion on whether the chop is racist and whether it should be banned.
And yet, it persists. And since the university’s official position on the chant amounts to “¯\_(ツ)_/¯,” it should continue until right around the time the last racist dies off. Meteor Impact 2020, imo.
A ‘Noles alum passed it on to the Kansas City Chiefs in 1990, through the Northwest Missouri State university band he was directing.
And ‘Noles fans passed it on to Atlanta in 1991 to cheer on Deion Sanders, who was an alum of FSU himself.
So it’s safe to say that this is:
1. Not an Atlanta tradition.
2. Not any “actual Seminole war chant” as some Barves fans will claim
3. Super fuckin’ problematic, like most things that originated in fraternities in the 80s.
So what does that mean for the 2019 Atlanta Braves, who have had nearly 30 years to come to their senses?
It means that a Major League Baseball franchise is actively encouraging their fans to take part in a racist frat-boy tradition that wouldn’t have made it past the writer’s room chalkboard for National Lampoon’s Animal House and calling it an “element of the brand”.
And that, frankly, is unacceptable all on its own.
But then, they went further. When called out by Cardinals relief pitcher Ryan Helsley, who is himself Native American, they released the following statement:
At the time of writing, the Atlanta team is 12 runs behind the Cards in the top of the seventh, and I’ve heard the accompanying music three times, and the crowd chanting on its own at least twice. Since we can be thoroughly sure Mr. Helsley is on the premises, this statement is even more empty of purpose than it reads – which I must say is quite an achievement.
I sincerely hope the bulk of Atlanta baseball fans are taking note of this lapse of judgement on the part of their favorite team’s PR department and are making the necessary noise to shift their team out of Howdy Doody Time and into the modern world, where those of us who participate in society choose not to use caricatures of human culture as a joke.