Braves 6 – Phillies 2; CJ: 2-4, HR (10), RBI (43), 2 R
So, I love the Braves, if you hadn’t noticed. I write about them every day, literally. But… do I love their name? Is their name offensive? Random question, I know, but one that comes up from time to time when the sports world is light on controversies.
It’s not something I think about that often, but it’s a question I’ve contemplated in my fandom. For the most part, I just call them the Braves like I was calling them Sammy or Sara or Tommy or some other generic name. But it isn’t one. There’s stigma attached to their name and, in the past, people have called for them to change it.
I’m not sure what made me start thinking about them, but I was thinking about the Washington Redskins today, and my thoughts drifted to how incredibly insensitive their name is. Redskins. I’m pretty sure that was (and still is) a very derogatory name for Native Americans when this country was first being created. Red skins. Think about it. That’s pretty bad. Now think about some of the potential equivalents for other races. That’s really bad. If I was Native American, I would be offended, and probably would be every time I heard it. It would never loose that twinge of dissonance in my ear. Really sucks if any Native Americans are football fans, particularly Redskins fans.
I can also understand Cleveland Indians being offensive, given that it’s the incorrect label for the people that inhabited this land before the Europeans. It’s really just a reminder of early ignorance. If anything, we, as descendants of European settlers, should want to change it out of shame for our ineptitude. Yay, I landed in the West Indies! No, smarty pants, you didn’t.
I can also understand the concern with the Florida State Seminoles. Not the name, however. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Florida using the name Seminole after a group of people that lived in the area. It would be like being called the Texas Austinites or the Montreal Canadians. (Hey, what a second.) I think the issue is with their mascot, the outfit he wears, the painting of his face, the war cry, and all those very stereotypical things. Even if they are (and I doubt it) historically accurate, in that the Seminoles behaved somewhat in that way, it’s still offensive by disregarding the purpose for the ritual. It denies the rich heritage and meaning behind the actions. So, yes, I think it’s offensive.
However, I don’t think that way when I hear ‘Braves.’ And, no, I’m not just being a homer so hear me out. First, it’s commonly believed that they are referring to Native American warriors, but couldn’t they also be referring to anyone that goes ‘bravely’ into battle? Why just Native Americans? Just a thought, if also a bit of a stretch.
So, as we know where it came from, why is this particular name offensive? Maybe this one I would need explained to me by someone with far better knowledge on the subject, but from where I sit, calling a warrior a Brave isn’t a bad thing, nor a particularly derogatory one. The Springfield Nurses or Teachers or Fighters. Most of those are boring but you get the point. It’s a simple title for what they do, uet it’s a positive one. That’s all I’m saying.
I know in the past the Braves used to have an offensive mascot much like Florida State. I think they eventually went for a “friendlier” one that looked kind of like Mr. Met but with a feather on the back of his head – so, yeah, still racist. But now, I think they’ve scratched the majority of the stereotypical Native American references from the team, unlike Florida State.
They have left one key thing – the tomahawk and the ‘chop’ that goes with it. Those, I agree, offensive. Again, I doubt the tomahawk they use is historically accurate. Seems more like a carbon copy of something you saw in old West movies. And, as well, it’s devoid of all meaning and purpose, which I know it had when it was being used as an actual tool by the Native American population.
So there you have it. I think the name can stay because, relative to other names out there, I don’t believe it’s offensive. However, I would like to see the tomahawk and the chop fazed out, but I have a feeling that will be a long, long, long time coming. You’ll probably have to see the end of the Seminole down in Florida first before the Braves consider changing.
And I can also see why people of Native American heritage might find the name ‘Braves’ offensive. I don’t think I’d have a problem watching the Springfield Pasta Makers, but it certainly wouldn’t be my first choice.