Why bring up talk of a Braves name change now?

Atlanta Braves players and coaching staff during the second workout of Summer Camp in Truist Park on Saturday, July 4, 2020. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Atlanta Braves players and coaching staff during the second workout of Summer Camp in Truist Park on Saturday, July 4, 2020. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

It was time for a discussion.

No agenda. No campaign. No ulterior motive.

There has been some degree of controversy surrounding the Braves name and to a greater degree the Tomahawk Chop and chant. It surfaced last year during the Braves' playoff series with the Cardinals. It surfaced again recently with the NFL's Washington Redskins and MLB's Cleveland Indians acknowledging thoughts of a name change because of the Native American portrayal and imagery. Just a few years ago, Washington owner Daniel Snyder vowed the team name would never ever be changed and here we were. Should the Braves be next?

Let’s talk.

In coordinating our package of stories, we were adamant in presenting three sides to this impassioned debate — those of the Native American, the Braves and the fans. The stories, including several opinions from Braves fans, are accompanied by the results of a seven-question survey. Mission accomplished.

Certainly, starting such a discussion opens the door for criticism from those who question our motives. You should have seen the reaction — on social media and my email inbox — decrying our coverage of the controversy before Game 5 of that National League Division Series last year. You know, when the Braves did not distribute foam tomahawks and then promptly surrendered 10 first-inning runs in an elimination loss -- and we were part of the reason. A couple of my favorites this week in preparing our stories. One, when I solicited reader opinions on Twitter: “And HEEEEEEERE we go. Knew this was coming. #journalism.” I’m pretty sure the poster was being sarcastic. Another, a Facebook comment on the fan survey: “Ultimate click bait... without even opening the link I know that (a) it is overwhelmingly No, and (b) there will be a half dozen ads that will generate revenue for the AJC!” I don’t know if that reader answered our survey, but I’m positive my pay will be the same this week.

Seriously, there is nothing wrong with some good, healthy debate. To be as transparent as possible, that was our motive in presenting this series of stories. Maybe years down the road, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will examine the same subject. Maybe there will be stories on the Atlanta Braves winning another World Series title — in front of raucous, chopping, chanting crowd. Maybe there will be stories on the Atlanta (Insert Name Here) winning another World Series title — in front of a raucous crowd.

Either way, let’s keep having healthy discussion — about such a nuanced debate or whether they really tried a sacrifice bunt in the seventh inning.

Keep reading. Keep talking.

— Chris Vivlamore, Sports Editor

THE DISCUSSION

» Braves make position clear on name change
» Mark Bradley: How about 'Atlanta Brave' instead?
» Poll: Fans support keeping Braves name
» Fan's view: Keep the community, change name
» Fan's view: Storied history that matters to many
» Fan's view: What to tell son, honoring a culture

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