I have been a Chiefs fan all my life, and grew up idolizing Derrick Thomas and Neil Smith. I like baseball and college sports too, but the Chiefs occupy a special place in my heart. I've seen them lose in the playoffs in person no less than three times. I make games every year. I am as much of a fan as anybody on this board.
And that's why this is so hard to say.
But guys. It's time to get rid of the Tomahawk Chop.
I know, I know. I've been doing it my whole life. Hell, I will probably do it again (when in the stadium, how could one resist?). But in my view, the Tomahawk Chop is the only direct link between the Kansas City Chiefs and racism against Native Americans.
I'm an ardent defender of the Chiefs both as a team and as an organization. I am also an ardent not-racist. So when someone brings up the Chiefs in the discussion of team names that need to be retired out of respect to the indigenous peoples of the Americas, I shoot back. "'Chief' was the nickname for Mayor Bartle! That's where the name comes from." "Cultures all across the world used Arrowheads, that's not specifically a Native American thing." "There is no Native American imagery at all in any official Chiefs insignia."
Come on, it's not like we're the Redskins. Or the Indians. Or the Seminoles, or even the Blackhawks. Those are the teams that need a name change, or a makeover. Not the Chiefs!
Can we agree that the Redskins should change their name? Can we all agree that the Cleveland Indians logo is the most racist logo in professional sports? Don't those things need to be changed?
Maybe you don't think so. But still, you must admit that that is the way the country is moving. Someday you are going to tell your grandkids that once upon a time, there was a team in the National Football League called the Redskins. And they were based in our nation's capitol. And nobody thought it was weird. They will laugh at this absurd notion because it is in fact absurd.
In my estimation, the Chiefs organization borrows from/exploits Native American culture in no way whatsoever, except for one.
The Tomahawk Chop.
It's racist. It just is. This is not easy for me to admit.
As a Chiefs fan, it feels good to belt it out and chop your arm, and imagine that you're squishing the tiny Raiders down on the field below with each extension. I've been doing it since early childhood. I do it at home by myself on game day. But I need to stop. We all do.
Sooner or later the Washington Redskins will change their name. The Cleveland Indians will change their logo (at the very least). That's how the wind is blowing. Do you want the Chiefs to still be the Chiefs in 20 years? If we want to be able to truthfully claim that our team does not borrow from or exploit Native American culture (and I certainly do), then we need to chop the Chop.
Please don't ban me.