Monday, February 4, 2013

Offensive? Fun-loving? Or just trivial?

The so-called “tomahawk chop” that many people use to lambast Atlanta Braves baseball fans as bordering on racist – what with its parody of a “war” chant and the mocking wave of a weapon as though all the natives are “savages.”

I’ve been seeing it a lot in recent days, for it seems that the chop plays just as well south of the Rio Bravo del Norte/Rio Grande.

I’M REFERRING TO the Caribbean Series – that annual, week-long tournament held the beginning of each February to determine bragging rights for the best team in Latin American baseball.

This year’s tourney featuring the champions of Mexico’s Pacific League, and the professional leagues in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela is being held in Hermosillo, a city in northern Mexico not all that far from the Sonora/Arizona border.

And as I have been watching the games each evening (yes, I watched the Obregon City Yaquis of Mexico play the Escogido Lions of the Dominican Republic on Sunday, rather than the Super Bowl), I have derived some amusement from the fan reactions.

It caught me off-guard when I first heard it Friday night. But it has recurred so many times that it now doesn’t phase me much.

IT’S THE EXACT same parody of a war-chant, combined with the waving about of the weapon that the Braves fans get blasted for.

Except that this time, it is being done by fans who may well have some sort of indigenous “blood” in their own ethnic origins. Can it be disrespectful done under these circumstances? Because I sure don’t consider it any more authentic than when it is being done by a batch of Southern, white male fans who think they’re playing “savage” against the competing baseball club!

My guess is that it is being done here for the same reason that it gets done at Braves games – the Pacific League champion Yaquis are named after an Indian tribe native to what is now northern Mexico.

Braves. Yaquis. Just like the Florida State University Seminoles – whose fans are the ones who claim to have originated the “chop” as a chant to root on their favorite athletic clubs!

PERSONALLY, I HAVE always had a hard time getting worked up about Atlanta Braves fans doing this chant. Not because I think it is defensible. But more because I think it is just trivial, if not dumb.

The sight of more than 30,000 Atlanta-area residents engaging in such a chant makes them look more like a group of simpletons than anything else. Why should I get worked up about them? They do more damage to their own image than anything I could say or write.

So should I think any less of those Mexican fans who are also doing the chop chant? It’s equally silly south of the border.

If anything, the whole atmosphere at the ballpark in Hermosillo (which is a newly-constructed stadium built up to the standards of a lot of the top minor league or spring training facilities in the United States) just seems so Yanqui-fied.

THERE ARE A few fans waving national flags about.

But you’re just as likely to see fans wearing the caps of the New York Yankees or the San Francisco Giants as you are to see a Yaqui cap. And the organist seems to like to play ditties meant to get people to clap their hands.

But then, there’s the one aspect of modern-day sports crowds that I detest, and that seems to have spread to south of the border. I’m referring, of course, to Thunderstix.

Those loud, obnoxious noisemakers are all about the crowd. For that reason alone, the U.S. influence on sports and culture is something that ought to be denounced.

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