ATLANTA—Depending on your perspective, the tomahawk chop is either a rousing, intense, rumble-your-soul call-to-arms or a cartoonish, ignorant modern-day minstrel show.
What it’s not, by any estimation, is an inoffensive little go-get-‘em fight song. Once again, the Atlanta Braves find themselves in the spotlight over the chant, and once again, the team faces a choice: control the chop, or be controlled by the reaction to it.
The latest flare-up in the nearly three-decade-old saga of the chop arrived in Atlanta this week with the St. Louis Cardinals. Reliever Ryan Helsley, a member of the Cherokee Nation and one of the few Native Americans in the majors, was asked about the chop prior to Game 2 of the National League Championship Series, and he didn’t hold back.