I laid out my argument for the Charlotte Hornets rebrand three weeks ago.
Since then, MJ addressed the name change on Bobcats.com:
“As some of you may be aware, we have engaged a national polling group to survey both our current season ticket holders and randomly selected individuals in our local area to see how our fans and stakeholders feel about this topic.
Judging from the e-mails you’ve sent me, the opinion seems to be very mixed.”
What he said is uncontroversial, but surprising. We’ve known for a while that the organization is polling season ticket holders about a potential Bobcats-to-Hornets name change. MJ hasn’t released the results or shared the contents of his inbox so it’s hard to contest the “very mixed” comment.
But who really supports keeping the Bobcats name?
It doesn’t exist.
I Googled “Keep the Bobcats Name” and got varying results about the perils of domesticating real bobcats or advice on how to keep them away from chicken coops. Not one result was a passionate supporter of the Charlotte Bobcats name.
I don’t know a single person who supports the Bobcats name. I know dozens who support a change to the Hornets. That’s anecdotal and not a great way to make a decision. But again, where’s the counter movement to Bring Back the Buzz?
Take, for instance, this Charlotte Observer poll. It shows only 3 percent of 12,000 voters would like to keep the Bobcats name. 85 percent support a Hornets rebrand. Sure, people can vote several times. Maybe it’s not a perfect sample. But we’re talking about 3 percent. If it were a 50-50 tie then I would get the hesitation. Then I would question polling methodology.
But we’re talking about 3 percent.
Name one professional franchise that could have a name change referendum in its city’s major newspaper and only poll 3 percent support. You can’t. Imagine the Steelers only getting 3 percent support in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Imagine the Lakers only getting 3 percent support in the Los Angeles Times. Imagine the Yankees only getting 3 percent support in the New York Times.
The NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets seems like a silly name to me, but there isn’t a movement to rebrand in Ohio. The Columbus Dispatch doesn’t have a poll showing only 3 percent support for the Blue Jackets name.
I can’t tell you what percentage of our community prefers Hornets to Bobcats. But I can tell you that it does prefer Hornets. Why? There’s no Keep the Bobcats group on Twitter or Facebook. Then there’s the whole 85 to 3 percent thing.
It’s hard to believe Charlotte’s opinion is “very mixed.”
~Lewis Woodard, WFNZ Sports Radio The Fan 610 AM
Follow on Twitter @LewWoodard