Keep the “chop” or “chop” it?

ATLANTA BRAVES fans doing the controversial “tomahawk chop” gesture (Wikipedia).

The Houston Astros are trailing the Atlanta Braves three games to two going into Tuesday’s Game Six. To win the series, the Astros must win the next two games, amounting to three games in a row. Pretty exciting, eh?

Maybe if you live in Texas or Georgia, but for a lot of other folks the most interesting thing about this climactic event for America’s Pastime is the controversy over a silly little gesture known as the “Tomahawk Chop.” You’ve seen it on TV during not only Braves’ games, but also in telecasts of Florida State football and in the NFL from fans of the Kansas City Chiefs.


There are doubtless many more college and high school athletic programs that employ the gesture as a way of chanting their support of their team. As you recall, the act consists of a downward gesture (from the elbow) of the forearm – said to represent a strike from a tomahawk, a weapon and tool used by some Native American tribesmen. Often it’s accompanied by a chant – backed by rhythmic drumming – that’s intended to rattle the nerves of the other team.

The accusation is that its use is “racist” and “demeaning,” representing as it does tribal people as being best-at and best-known for in-your-face violence. The reply is usually something along the lines of “It’s just for fun. Get a life.”

You could make the argument that as stereotypes go, it’s not that bad. After all, it depicts “Braves” as fierce and effective warriors. On the other hand, lots of people admire Mafia movies and the willingness of these Italian-American fellas to shoot other folks in the pursuit of getting what they want. But you probably wouldn’t have a team named the Honolulu Hitmen with fans using “finger guns” to mow down the opposition.

Yeah, it’s probably innocently intended. But it’s also probably time to holster those guns and set aside those axes and bring baseball ­­– notorious for resisting change – into the 21st century. There are a lot of other things that Atlanta is famous for that don’t involve … you know …

The best of times? Not for every fan

It’s often been said that October/November is the primo season for sports fans because all four major sports (football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey are all going on at the same time.

If true, there’s only one group of local fans which are really happy, and that’s those of the Los Angeles Rams (7-1). The rest are tending towards disappointment with the mediocrity of their heroes. The Chargers have lost two straight, both hockey teams are under water (ice?) and Bruins and Trojans will likely need a Thanksgiving miracle to get invited to a post-season game better than the Tofu Bowl.

The Lakers have struggled to get above .500 and the Clippers are at the bottom of the NBA Pacific Division.

For years, the traditional lament in hard times has been “wait until next year.” For us, we say, “Wait until next month.”

Calendar for the week ahead

  • Los Angeles Rams host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday at 5:20 p.m.
  • Los Angeles Chargers at Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
  • UCLA football has a bye week
  • USC football visits Arizona State.
  • Anaheim Ducks will host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, the Arizona Coyotes on Friday and the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.
  • Los Angeles Kings will host the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday and the New Jersey Devils on Friday.
  • Los Angeles Lakers will host the Houston Rockets on Tuesday and the Oklahoma Thunder on Thursday. On Saturday the team will visit Portland.
  • Los Angeles Clippers are hosting Oklahoma Thunder on Monday, visit the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday and host the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday.
  • High school football (CIF-SS) playoffs start on Friday.

Final Out: If you didn’t already know, there is a less-controversial tomahawk chop. It’s a tasty chunk of meat shaped somewhat like the proverbial war hammer of  “The Last of the Mohicans.” It’s also known as a bone-in-ribeye. It has been described as the best cut of steak by some gourmands. Anyone have a beef with that?

“Sports Monday” is written by Pete Zarustica.




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