So for those of you in KC that are soccer fans, how many went into work today and had people come up to you and ask you about the name change of the team, asked you why it happened or asked you to explain exactly what the hell Sporting was and what is that SC on the logo that looks like two snakes having sex? I kept track and I had 15 people come up to me at work today asking me about the name change. Tonight when out picking up some stuff I had another 1 see me in my Wizards coat and ask me the same question.
I'm sure other people have had similar experiences in KC. It's certainly not the easiest thing to explain, the reason why they're called Sporting and you can only direct people to look at the reasoning on the team's website so many times. Many that I did explain it to actually liked the idea of a sporting club, thinking it was a pretty cool idea overall, which I actually agree with. The idea is cool, the question is how the team pulls it off, I'm sure it will start with lower revenue generating sports like rugby and lacrosse, but will they move into more high profile sports like basketball and hockey in the future?
Hopefully the need for an explanation lessens over time, and it certainly should, but today along with the good responses I got a lot of that's stupid, why'd they dump the history of the name, and why'd they go with a European name, this is the US. And while Robb Heineman has said this wasn't about copying a European name, the fact that when soccer fans think of the name Sporting in regards to soccer, most think of Sporting Lisbon.
The name has gotten a good beating in the local media as well, on the radio and on TV. Last night on NBC Action News, Jack Harry said that of the comments on his Twitter page about the change 99% of them were negative. Other news organizations seemed to have similar results, or they spent some time making a joke or two about the new name. Certainly not the way you want to start off your new era under a new name. Sporting Club has their work cut out for them in fighting against this early negative connotations about the name.
Around the MLS world the reaction hasn't been much better, a lot of what I've read today centers around MLS again dumping it's "American" identity with another step towards a more "European" one. Fans of all teams seem to be bashing on the new name, the logo and the jerseys. The name is obviously getting the brunt of it because of the European connotation, but the logo is getting it's fair share. The questions about why the SC, why not a KC, why have Kansas City above Sporting when the name is Sporting KC. All questions that I've seen asked all over the place with relation to the logo. The jerseys have not been left along either. While I think the new uniforms are sharp I do see the arguments people have against them. The Wizards had been the only team really wearing a more "true" blue for their uniform any more. Now with the rebranding they run into more uniform conflicts. The two jerseys at first glance look similar to Vancouver's colors and jerseys although the home jersey is a light blue unlike the Whitecaps white. With the light blue though, they're very similar to Colorado's secondary jersey, although the word is that they are going to white next year. As for the indigo, it'll certainly remind a lot of fans of LA and New York's away jerseys with the similar colors.
Overall it could have gone worse. The world didn't end, the sun came up this morning, etc. Still there is a lot of work that will need to be done by the front office of Sporting KC to continue to get the word out on the new brand, push it out to the fans and none fans and push for a better understanding of what the name and the brand means now. They did a decent job last night, but the news isn't going to show the full announcement. It's up to them now to make people understand the reason for the change, help them embrace it, and help people begin to develop a love for Sporting. The one question I do have is how much of this did they expect? How much of this negative reaction did they expect and how much are they actually currently taken back by? Either way it's not going to be an easy process.