While many sports fans say the Cleveland Indians were right to get rid of their old name, they aren’t nearly so willing to see the 2021 World Series-winning Atlanta Braves make the same decision.
In a Dec. 8-13 poll conducted by Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business, half of self-described “avid fans” said they supported the name change in Cleveland. However, significantly fewer (36 percent) liked the team’s new name (the Cleveland Guardians).
Given that the name change was a response to complaints from community members and Native American groups, it might seem logical to expect that sports fans would be equally willing to expect the same move from the Atlanta Braves, but that’s not the case.
Only a third (34 percent) of the avid fans said that the Braves should drop that moniker, with just 25 percent of “casual fans,” 23 percent of the overall sample and 18 percent of “non-fans” agreeing.
There was a bit more resistance to the “Tomahawk Chop,” a traditional gesture made by fans during Braves games. Close to half (47 percent) of avid fans thought the chop should itself be chopped, with 38 percent of the overall sample also saying it should go.
“The statistics speak to the deep divide in our attitudes on race and culture,” said Charles Grantham, who directs the Center for Sport Management at Stillman. “The playing fields are not immune to the culture wars and sports often play the role of battlefield as this country sorts out its differences.”