The Atlanta Braves make changes after rookie’s concerns about ‘tomahawk chop’

The Atlanta Braves make changes after rookie’s concerns about ‘tomahawk chop’

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On Wednesday, when Braves fans arrived for Game 5 of the National League Division Series, they discovered the team chose not to place foam tomahawks on each stadium seat where they had been before games 1 and 2, after criticism from Cardinals rookie Ryan Helsley.

Helsley's comments: "I think it's a misrepresentation of the Cherokee people or Native Americans in general,'' Helsley said. "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 how we're perceived in that way, or used as mascots. The Redskins and stuff like that." Helsley found the Braves' 'Tomahawk Chop' chant "a disappointment" and "disrespectful" to his Cherokee heritage.

The comments prompted the Braves to reconsider how they could alter their game-day practice, St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Two officials from the 'SunTrust Park' confirmed that the foam tomahawks were not at the seats in response to the rookie's comments and the conversations the team had as a result of them.

The Braves' response. On Saturday, the team issued a statement in which they said, “We appreciate and take seriously the concerns of Mr. Helsley and have worked to honor and respect the Native American community through the years. Our organization has sought to embrace all people and highlight the many cultures in Braves County. We will continue to evaluate how we activate elements of our brand, as well as the in-game experience, and look forward to a continued dialogue with those in the Native American community once the season comes to an end.”

"I respect Ryan's opinion. All he's doing is trying to support his heritage," 'Cardinals' manager Mike Shildt said. "He's sincere about his heritage and the thoughts behind it. I don't think he's got anything malicious toward it. I think he was just honest about it. And I respect that completely. ... Hels is a pro. And the hope would be, look, he was speaking out of sincerity. He wasn't speaking out of maliciousness or anything like that.

"So people can take that in whatever context they want to take it in and how they react is how they react," Shildt concluded. "But I'm sure Ryan will pitch equally good regardless."

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