Tomahawk chop

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The tomahawk chop being performed by members of the Georgia National Guard.

The tomahawk chop is a sports celebration most popularly used by fans of the American Florida State University Seminoles, Atlanta Braves baseball team, the Kansas City Chiefs American football team and the English Exeter Chiefs rugby union team. The action involves moving the forearm forwards and backwards repetitively with an open palm to simulate a tomahawk chopping, and is often accompanied by a distinctive cheer.[1] Atlanta Braves also developed a foam tomahawk to complement the fan actions. The action has caused controversy as a symbol of appropriation of Native American culture.

Florida State University[edit]

It is not known when the tomahawk chop was invented. However, it is claimed by a former Florida State University president that it was invented by the Florida State University Marching Chiefs in the 1980s to complement their war chants.[1] Another report claims it was first performed in 1984 by students from the university's fraternities behind the band. The action was adopted by fans of the FSU Seminoles over the following years.[2] Despite this, the university's board does not endorse the action stating "Some traditions we cannot control.....It's a term we did not choose and officially do not use".[2]

Atlanta Braves[edit]

Atlanta Braves fans doing the tomahawk chop

The tomahawk chop was adopted by fans of the Atlanta Braves in 1991 following the signing of former FSU cornerback Deion Sanders, who was also playing for the National Football League's Atlanta Falcons at the time.[3] It was initially started by a few FSU fans in Atlanta who followed Sanders but this later grew to the whole of the Atlanta Braves' fanbase.[3] Initially fans would hold toy tomahawks when they did the action and the Atlanta Braves started to issue foam tomahawks which became popular at the Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium,[4] which later earned the nicknamed of "the Chop Shop".[3] The action continued to remain popular after Sanders had left the Atlanta Braves. From 2008 until 2016 as part of a sponsorship deal Chick-fil-A installed a 40-foot cow at Atlanta Braves' Turner Field, which would do a slow version of the tomahawk chop.[5]

In 2016, when the Atlanta Braves played their last game at Turner Field before leaving for SunTrust Park, the last official act done at Turner Field was known as "The Final Chop", where the Atlanta Braves warchant was played one last time with fans doing the tomahawk chop.[6]

Initially, the chant was accompanied on the organ at both Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and Turner Field, but by 2008, the team had switched to a recording of the FSU Marching Chiefs, as an homage to Sanders.

Foam tomahawk[edit]

A foam tomahawk

A foam tomahawk is a foam rubber sports paraphernalia item in the shape of a tomahawk, often used to accompany the tomahawk chop. They were first created in 1991 for the Atlanta Braves baseball team following their adoption of the tomahawk chop.[7]

Creation[edit]

Foam tomahawks were invented by foam salesman Paul Braddy. Upon hearing Skip Caray saying during a radio broadcast of an Atlanta Braves game that they needed tomahawks to accompany their newly acquired tomahawk chop celebration,[8] he approached the Braves' concessions manager John Eifert with a suggestion of a foam rubber tomahawk. Eifert agreed providing they cost around $5, to which Braddy carved a tomahawk out of foam with an electric knife.[9][7] Eifert bought 5,000 for sale for the Atlanta Braves.[10] The foam tomahawks became very popular with Braves fans at the Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium - [11] so much so, that Braddy was able to quit his $60,000 a year salesman's job in order to manufacture foam tomahawks full-time, and was able to create 8,000 a day.[12]

Braddy started selling them himself. However, he was approached by Major League Baseball a month into the venture, who claimed that the foam tomahawk infringed upon the Atlanta Braves' copyrighted tomahawk logo. In response, Braddy made a deal with Major League Baseball Properties to license the MLB symbol and receive logistical support in exchange for 10% of the profits.[8]

Controversy[edit]

The usage of foam tomahawks led to criticism from Native American groups that it was "demeaning" to them and called for them to be banned.[7] In response, the Braves' public relations director said that it was "a proud expression of unification and family".[7] In preparation as a response to any potential ban, Braddy prepared to discuss deals with the Florida State University Seminoles, Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Redskins American football teams, as well as other universities with Native American mascots.[8]

Kansas City Chiefs[edit]

The Kansas City Chiefs may have also started the tomahawk chop.[13]

Exeter Chiefs[edit]

The English rugby team Exeter Chiefs adopted the name of "Chiefs" in 1999.[14] They started using it along with the war chant in 2010, following their promotion to the English Premiership.[15] They use it as their walk out music at Sandy Park[16] as well as a chant by their fans during rugby matches.[17]

Controversy[edit]

Usage of the tomahawk chop has led to complaints that it made fun of Native American culture.[18] It also was criticized for being a reference to the former practice of scalping.[14] Shortly after the Atlanta Braves adopted it, there were a number of calls from Native Americans for Braves fans to stop doing the tomahawk chop.[10] Prior to the 1991 World Series a number of Native Americans protested against the Braves using the tomahawk chop outside the Metrodome. During the protests Clyde Bellecourt, national director of the American Indian Movement, suggested that the team could be called "the Atlanta Negroes, Atlanta Klansmen or Atlanta Nazis".[19] In 2009, the Gill-Montague Regional School Committee, a local school board in Massachusetts, banned the use of the gesture at school sporting events, calling it offensive and discriminatory.[20] In 2016, Native American groups asked the Kansas City Chiefs to stop doing the tomahawk chop.[21] In the same year a similar request was made of Exeter Chiefs.[22]

In politics, during the 2012 Senate election in Massachusetts, staffers of candidate Scott Brown were filmed doing the tomahawk chop at a campaign rally towards supporters of Elizabeth Warren, to mock Warren's claim of Native American ancestry.[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b L.V. Anderson (2012-09-26). "Origins of the tomahawk chop: Scott Brown's staffers mocking Elizabeth Warren are continuing a long tradition". Slate.com. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  2. ^ a b "The "Tomahawk Chop" started in 1984 during an FSU vs. Auburn football game". Savannah Now. 2006-08-08. Archived from the original on 2017-02-24. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  3. ^ a b c Anderson, Dave (1991-10-13). "The Braves' Tomahawk Phenomenon". New York Times. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  4. ^ CRAIG DAVIS (1991-09-14). "Braves' Park Now A Tomahawk Shop". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  5. ^ "Chick-fil-A cow leaving Turner Field for SunTrust Park early". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 2016-03-02. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  6. ^ TEGNA (2016-10-03). "Braves turn off the lights at Turner Field for final time". 11alive.com. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  7. ^ a b c d Anderson, Dave (1991-10-13). "Sports of The Times - The Braves' Tomahawk Phenomenon". New York Times. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  8. ^ a b c "200,000 Foam Tomahawks: That's Not Chopped Liver". Bloomberg. 1991-10-11. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  9. ^ "Carving can be electric". Baltimore Sun. 2008-11-12. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  10. ^ a b Anderson, Dave (1991-10-13). "Sports of The Times - The Braves' Tomahawk Phenomenon". New York Times. Retrieved 2017-03-26.
  11. ^ Hiatt, Gabe. "A Super Bowl win could help Atlanta shake its reputation as a bad sports town". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  12. ^ CRAIG DAVIS (1991-09-14). "Braves' Park Now A Tomahawk Shop". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  13. ^ "The Tomahawk Chop-it's No Longer Just Fsu's". Sun Sentinel. 1991-10-09. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  14. ^ a b Ed Oldfield (2016-08-03). "Is it time for Exeter Chiefs to bury the tomahawks?". Exeter Express and Echo. Archived from the original on 2016-10-10. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  15. ^ Rugby Union Correspondent, Chris Hewett. "Exeter do have a funny side but nobody's laughing now". The Independent. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  16. ^ By This is Devon (2011-03-04). "The Tomahawk Chop chant has become the soundtrack to Exeter Chiefs's recent success". Western Morning News. Retrieved 2017-02-23.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ Club (2011-12-30). "Listen to the Exeter Chiefs' war chant". Telegraph. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  18. ^ Bates, Mike (2013-05-01). "Yeah, the "Tomahawk Chop" bugs me. Here's why". SBNation. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  19. ^ "Think It`s Time To Put The Tomahawk Away?". Sun Sentinel. 1991-10-20. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  20. ^ Davis, Miranda (2016-11-28). "District to review Tomahawk Chop during Turners Thanksgiving game". Recorder.com. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  21. ^ Ariel Rothfield (2016-01-15). "Kansas indigenous group asking Kansas City Chiefs fans to stop the Tomahawk chop". KSHB. Archived from the original on 2016-12-28. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  22. ^ By EdOldfield (2016-08-08). "A message for Exeter Chiefs rugby club from a member of the Crow Creek Dakota Sioux tribe". Exeter Express and Echo. Archived from the original on 2016-08-09. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  23. ^ "Scott Brown Staffers Do 'Tomahawk Chop' at Rally". ABC News. 25 September 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2017.