Sports

Few Americans Support Banning Braves ‘Chop’ Despite Increased Scrutiny

Just 29% of U.S. adults support an MLB ban of the Atlanta team’s longtime ballpark chant and gesture

Fans do "the chop" during a World Series game between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park in Atlanta, Georgia. Despite increased scrutiny of the controversial gesture, most American's don't support banning it. (Photo by Michael Zarrilli/Getty Images)

With the Atlanta Braves’ tomahawk chop already under increased scrutiny, former President Donald Trump turned up the temperature by taking part in the chant and gesture while attending Saturday’s Game 4 of the World Series at Truist Park. While some journalists and fans have criticized MLB for allowing the team to continue the controversial cheer, recent survey results indicate the majority of Americans don’t want the league to step in.

What the new numbers say

  • About half of U.S. adults (51 percent) said MLB should not ban the tomahawk chop from its ballparks, while 29 percent of adults said they would support such a ban. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred defended the chop prior to the start of the World Series, asserting that the Native American community in the Atlanta area “is wholly supportive of the Braves program, including the chop.”
  • Younger Americans, however, were more open to potentially stopping the chop. Forty-three percent of Generation Z adults, a group MLB is desperate to reach, said they would support a ban, compared to just 28 percent who were against one. Millennials were almost evenly split on the topic, with 38 percent in favor of a ban and 43 percent opposed.
  • Sentiment among self-identified MLB fans was similar to that of the broader public, with 33 percent in favor of the league putting an end to the chop and 54 percent opposed to such a move.
  • In 2019, the Braves said that they would “evaluate” whether to keep the chop going forward. The team still plays the drumbeat over the sound system and shows a hatchet banging to the beat on the video board as fans swing their arms and emit a so-called war chant. Critics, including some in Native communities, have long argued the chant and gesture are racist and dehumanizing.

What else you should know

  • With the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians both deciding to retire their long-held monikers last year, changing to the Washington Football Team and Cleveland Guardians, respectively, the Braves have been forced to answer questions about the future of their team name, as well. The team has said it has no plans to choose a new identity.
  • Nearly 3 in 4 Americans surveyed (73 percent) said they believe the use of Native American names and imagery by sports teams pays homage to Indigenous people, as opposed to being disrespectful to Indigenous people and their cultures.
  • Asked specifically about the Braves, 16 percent of U.S. adults said they consider their name and logo to be offensive. Slightly higher shares of respondents said they take offense to the Chicago Blackhawks (22 percent) and Florida State Seminoles (21 percent) brand identities, both of which include logos that depict the face of an indigenous person.
  • Last summer, 33 percent of Americans polled said they were offended by the Cleveland Indians nickname and “Chief Wahoo” mark, while 30 percent took offense to the Washington Redskins name and imagery.

The Oct. 26-28 survey was conducted among 2,198 U.S. adults, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. The margins of error among 188 Gen Z adults and 680 millennials are 7 points and 4 points, respectively.

Morning Consult