The Atlanta Braves did NOT pass out their traditional foam tomahawks prior to Game 5 of the NLDS on Wednesday … after St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley — a member of the Cherokee tribe — spoke out against the promotion.
FYI — the Braves have passed out the foam tomahawks on each seat in the stadium for postseason games in the past … and adopted the accompanying chant from Florida State when Deion Sanders played for Atlanta in the 1990s.
Helsley made it clear he wasn’t a fan of the props — or the “Tomahawk Chop” chant that comes with it — earlier in the Cards’ series with ATL … saying it misrepresents Native Americans.
“[It] just depicts them in this kind of caveman-type people way who aren’t intellectual,” Helsley told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“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 it devalues us and how we’re perceived in that way, or used as mascots.”
The Braves heard Helsley loud and clear … because the foam tomahawks have been completely removed from the stadium.
“Out of respect for the concerns expressed by Mr. Helsley, we will take several efforts to reduce the Tomahawk Chop during our in-ballpark presentation today,” the Braves said in a statement.
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“Among other things, these steps include not distributing foam tomahawks to each seat and not playing the accompanying music or using Chop-related graphics when Mr. Helsley is in the game.”
“As stated earlier, we will continue to evaluate how we activate elements of our brand, as well as the overall in-game experience.”
“We look forward to a continued dialogue with those in the Native American community after the postseason concludes.”
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