A fan’s view: A storied history matters to many

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Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

Is it time for the Braves to change their name?

Editor’s note: Should the Braves change their name and associated Native American symbols? It’s a question that has faced the franchise in the past. It does so again with recent pressure on the NFL’s Washington Redskins, MLB’s Cleveland Indians and others to change. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution sought the voice of Braves fans, on both sides, as part of a broad discussion on the topic. Here is one view.

There has been much controversy in recent months over the use of such sports nicknames as the Redskins, Indians and our hometown Braves. As a Braves fan throughout my 19 years, I strongly believe that the name of the team should remain the same. As we are turning a page in society, with so many things changing, we should definitely remain cognizant of equality and the comfort of all races.

However, the storied history that goes along with this name is unbelievably important to the countless Braves fans, dating to 1871. I understand that the Tomahawk Chop is most likely going to become a thing of the past, as it was scrutinized by opposing players in last year’s National League Division Series. I also can see how the name Redskins could be viewed as controversial to some nationalities, as it identifies a group of people strictly by their skin color.

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However, I do not agree with the arguments made by many people that say the Braves’ moniker is offensive to Native Americans. The changing of this name would permanently alter the history of this storied franchise and baseball all together. To fully understand the topic, it is important to understand what the name is in reference to. The term “Brave” was synonymous with “Warrior,” and was given to those who gained respect and performed courageous acts in the tribe. Becoming a Brave was an important rite of passage into manhood in the eyes of the American Indians. In that light, any player who dons the word “Braves” on their chest is honoring the people who came before them in our great land.

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Braves fans remember Chief Noc-A-Homa, the light-hearted mascot for the team in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. As we know, that would not be acceptable in today’s climate, which is why the Braves have had no affiliation with any Indian logo since the mid-’80s.

Baseball always has been a sport that brings all people together no matter their race, creed or color, and the Braves are a prime example of that. The franchise has had a history of great minorities - on the field and in the front office - who wore the logo with pride, not to mention the Braves hired the first African-American general manager in MLB history, Bill Lucas.

Despite all of this, I cannot make a complete judgment on the matter, as I am not a person with Native American ancestry in my blood. A 2016 poll taken by the Washington Post found that 90% of current Native Americans found no problem with the use of these names to depict sports teams. So I ask this of those in favor of the change: What has changed so much in four years that would warrant the change of this name? Also, if Native Americans see no problem with the name, then why would we take this drastic step? If they are not the most important voice on this matter, then who is?