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MLB's Rob Manfred wades into 'Tomahawk Chop' debate at spring training

He took two questions on the controversy amid a sea of Astros cheating scandal requests while at the Braves' spring training, Sunday.

NORTH PORT, Fla. — The leader of Major League Baseball seemed hesitant to delve into the Braves' "Tomahawk Chop" controversy as he fielded dozens of questions about the Astros cheating scandal on Sunday.

But even amid those questions, it was hard to ignore the slightly smaller elephant in the room - especially considering the fact that the press conference was at Braves spring training in North Port, Florida.

To begin with, Commissioner Rob Manfred suggested that the Chop controversy hadn't been on his mind recently.

"You know, um, I'm sorry to admit this, but with the - all that's going on, I can honestly say I have not had a conversation with Braves about the Tomahawk Chop," he said. "It's not that I don't understand that it's an issue, it's just simply too much going on and I haven't even gotten around to it."

The issue reared its head in 2019 during the Braves' ill-fated playoff bout with the St. Louis Cardinals. One of the players, Ryan Helsley suggested that the long-held Braves chant and motion were insulting to the Native American community.

The Braves, at that time, promised to continue a dialogue with that Native American community following his criticism and also took efforts to reduce the Tomahawk Chop during the games while Helsley was on the field.

"As stated earlier, we will continue to evaluate how we activate elements of our brand, as well as the overall in-game experience," the team said in a statement at the end of the season.

Now in the midst of spring training, the question is once again making waves as the home of the Braves goes through many changes - including a rebrand to Truist Park to reflect the merged bank that now owns it.

Time will tell if that change also includes axing the Chop.

With that in mind,11Alive's Alex Glaze managed to get a bit more out of the MLB commissioner about the Chop moving forward before Manfred called an end to Sunday's press conference.

"Across sports, we have seen different communities with different levels of tolerance on particular issues," Manfred said while also reiterating that he hadn't spoken to the Braves yet.

But he also suggested the issue wasn't unique to Atlanta's team.

"It happens other places, I think we need to think through how closely we want to regulate what goes on in particular communities - and in particular ballparks, on the one hand," he said. "On the other hand, I certainly understand the sensitivity on this issue and, you know, and have been proactive in terms of Native American concerns with respect to the Indians logo, so it's something that will remain a topic of conversation."

"I just can't do better than that for you, right now," he added.


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