The Cleveland Indians will change their nickname, and so could the Atlanta Braves.
With the Washington Football Team dropping their offensive nickname this summer, it was only a matter of time before the Cleveland baseball team did the same thing. Cleveland’s owner Paul Dolan said the franchise will be shedding the Indians moniker before unveiling a new nickname to be proud of in 2022. It is expected to have nothing to do with Native American culture.
Are the Atlanta Braves next up to change their nickname?
Ultimately, this comes down to where the line is drawn. The Washington NFL franchise and the Cleveland MLB franchise needed to drop their offensive nicknames like a bad habit. It took forever for this to happen, but it is better late than never. As for the Braves, they are in a group of three with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and the NHL‘s Chicago Blackhawks that need reevaluation.
With these three, there is a way to put a positive spin on each of these nicknames, whereas Cleveland and Washington were hopelessly antiquated and offensive. For example, the Braves could honor the United States Military by way of “Home of the Brave”, the same way the Chiefs could with “Commander-in-Chief”. The Blackhawks is a tad more complicated, but it is possible.
It would be smart for the Braves and the Chiefs to not do the Tomahawk Chop anymore, as that is only going to add more fuel to the fire of a name change being necessary. While Atlanta has done a better job of disassociating itself with blatant Native American imagery than most of these other organizations, the tomahawk emblem still remains and does draw a fair bit of criticism nationally.
The other interesting part with the Braves’ potential team name change is the organization has been in close contact with the Eastern Band of Cherokee about how to honor Native American people without being offensive. It is for that reason the nickname may be allowed to stay. However, if the Braves are eventually left out on an island, they may be left with no choice.
As a Braves fan myself, I do not want to see the nickname changed. Braves Baseball is synonymous with my childhood and is a massive part of Southeastern sports culture. I am also a 16th Cherokee on my mom’s side, so I understand a name change. I think as long as the Braves organization is respectful and has the support of the Eastern Band, then the nickname can remain.
In truth, if the Braves have to change their nickname at some point in my 30s, I am not going to fall to pieces over it. They could become the Atlanta Bananas, the Atlanta Bumblebees or the Atlanta Lemon Pepper Wings for all I care and it would not make a damn bit of difference to me. I would support the hell out of some Atlanta Bananas Baseball, if that is the way she goes.
What it will say is this. I think it is important to not eradicate every Native American team nickname from the face of the earth. We need to honor the people who were here first. I love the fact the Florida State Seminoles and the Utah Utes can make it work in college athletics. If there was a professional franchise who could do the same, I would hope the Braves could be that team.
Cleveland may be changing its nickname, but do not expect the Braves to quickly follow suit.