It’s going to happen. It’s not really a matter of "if" but "when." At some point in the future, there will be no Atlanta Braves. And that’s a good thing. All it takes is one look at what’s going on in Washington right now to see why. When you have patents being cancelled, senators and a president voicing their opinions, and constant disparaging media coverage from every angle, it’s clear that something isn’t right. Every day more Native American nicknames and logos are removed from schools, teams, and businesses across the country. It’s time for the Braves to be proactive and offer a name change before it’s inevitably forced upon them.
Here’s who I am- I’ve worn a tomahawk on my clothes since I first began cheering for the Braves at age 5. I remember fondly watching my childhood heroes of David Justice, Chipper Jones, and Greg Maddux hoist the 1995 World Series Trophy. I’ve had Braves’ memorabilia adorn my walls throughout my life, including my favorite red foam tomahawk. I’ve chopped along during rallies on opening days, playoff games, and everything in between. When it comes to sentimental attachment to a sports team, I can match anyone. But lately my chops have lacked some spirit and gained some cultural awareness- and it’s not just me.
Now I know what the response will be to my suggesting that the Braves proactively change their name, "But Redskins is a derogatory slur, ‘Braves’ is clearly a term of honor." And the always classic, "It wasn’t offensive 20 years ago but all of a sudden it now is." Thankfully, things have changed in the past 20 years and it’s all for the better. Now before you go and lament the politically correct downfall of society, understand that a Native American nickname and tomahawk logo are offensive. Period. Maybe you’re not offended by it. Maybe there are some Native Americans who aren’t offended by it. But the offense here is nothing less than the wide scale historical genocide and marginalization of a people that, believe it or not, is still going on today. There’s no silver lining. There’s no honoring. There is a lot of sadness, shame, and stories that need to be listened to, and a red tomahawk across the chest just doesn’t cut it.
So if not Braves, then what? There are plenty of possibilities that should work to rally Atlanta baseball fans. How about the Atlanta Kings, paying homage to Martin Luther King Jr., an Atlanta native? My favorite idea right now is to name the team after the iconic Hank Aaron and call the team the Atlanta Hammers (I bet Atlanta-based Home Depot wouldn’t mind sponsoring that team either). Or the team could go throwback and be the Atlanta Bees (the team played as the Boston Bees from 1936-1940). There are plenty of other reasonable names that Atlanta could choose from that would truly represent the city’s pride and heritage far more than the Braves name ever did.
In 2017 the team is moving to a brand new stadium, and if they’re smart they’ll use the opportunity to create a whole new team image, name, and logo. Heck- Why not even change up the color scheme! There are too many red and blue teams in MLB anyway. It’s time to act, Atlanta, and for fans to rally to support the team. Don’t be the Redskins of MLB. Within the next few years, after the Redskins and Indians have new names, people will turn their attention to the Braves. I get it; this post won’t be very popular. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important. This is a team I love and will continue to love, but they become much more lovable (and lucrative) if they seek out a new name now and leave the Braves in history where it belongs.