Bobcats or Hornets? The biggest issue of our time

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It is the most important issue of our time. No, it’s not terrorism, not the economy, not gay weddings, not even Brangelina. “Bobcats” vs. “Hornets” — that is the most important issue. Ever since George Shinn — owner of the New Orleans Hornets, formerly the Charlotte Hornets — decided to sell his team to the NBA, local sports writers, broadcasters and fans have debated the momentous “Bobcats” vs. “Hornets” issue. If owners in another city buy the Hornets franchise, they could change the name of the team to better suit their own town; local fans say the Hornets name belongs here, and that the Bobcats (named after former owner/egomaniac Bob Johnson) should claim the “Hornets” moniker. So many people started talking and writing about the issue, I decided to conduct an informal, non-scientific poll on the matter. Just as I did when authorities announced last year that black-tar heroin was being sold in every Charlotte neighborhood, I canvassed my neighbors in Madison Park (at least the ones within, say, a half-mile, don’t want to go overboard on this thing), to see how they felt about the latest issue of the decade.

A few houses down, Mabel and Ruth were hunkered in front of a fireplace. “Our heat’s out, and they can’t come to fix it till late today,” explained Ruth.

“Well, good luck with that. Say, I’m doing another survey: Do you think the Bobcats should change the team name to /the Hornets'?"

“Tell you the truth,” Ruth snapped, “I’m more concerned about getting the damned heat back on then whether some millionaire gland cases go by a new name or not.” I decided to leave quickly. Next stop was the friendly, sorta-hippieish couple a few houses away with a yard full of whirligigs and gnomes. When I asked Lance, the husband or boyfriend or whatever, what he thought of the “Bobcats vs. Hornets” controversy, he didn’t say anything at first. Then he still didn’t say anything. Then he asked, “You’re kidding, right?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, you must be kidding. Somebody really gives a shit about a basketball team’s name? No wonder this country’s in such a friggin’ mess.” Lance slammed the door, which I thought was kind of impolite, but I shrugged and continued up the hill to Jack’s Lawnmower Repair, basically a big shed behind Jack's house. I walked into the shop.

"Hi there, Mr. Grooms — bringing in the Toro for a winter tune-up?" asked Jack.

"No, the mower's fine,” I said. Jack frowned. "I'm conducting another survey," I continued, "and I’d like to know if you think the Bobcats should change the team’s name to ‘the Hornets.’”

“I don’t care what they call 'em — Bobcats, Hornets, Dobermans, Petunias, Wheelbarrows — I’ll never go see 'em,” replied Jack, who can be testy even on good days. “Damn tickets cost too much. Plus the team’s not any good, so why should I bother? I’ve got better things to do than think about that kind of crap,” said Jack, hustling me out of his shop. Jeez, you can tell it's the slow season for mower repair. But I was undeterred. Surely someone had an opinion — otherwise, why would people in the media keep talking about the issue, right? I walked to Herb Blanton’s, where he and his wife Betsy were outside raking leaves. When I asked him about the team names, Herb set down his rake and pondered a bit. “You know what I think?”  he asked, “I kind of like ‘the Chargers.’ That’s what I’d call them.”

“’Chargers’?” said Betsy, “what kind of name is that? Call them ‘the Golddiggers,’ after all those gold mines that were around when Charlotte was started.”

“Um, the issue, though, is Bobcats or Hornets,” I reminded them. “Which do you prefer?”

“I don’t like either one,” said Herb. “Me neither,” said Betsy. I thanked them and decided to move on; it was getting colder and my feet were freezing. As I walked back toward my house, I ran into Jenny, a young woman from down the street who, as always, was pushing her two-year-old daughter in a stroller.

“How you doing, Jenny?” I said, “Wonder if you’d answer a question for a survey I’m conducting.”

“I tell you, John, I would, but it’s too cold. I probably shouldn’t have brought Melly outdoors, and we’re headed home. Sorry,” Jenny said as she rushed by. I thought I heard her say something like “Jesus Christ,” so I guess she was praying to get home all right.

I was a little disappointed, but that’s how it goes sometimes in the journalism business. You ask a perfectly reasonable question and can’t get a decent answer. Makes you wonder, though, whether the media’s just stirring up a non-issue issue just to stay busy ... Nah, they wouldn’t do anything like that. Maybe I'll try again when it warms up.

CharlotteBobcatsLogo

OR. . . . . .

images

A few houses down, Mabel and Ruth were hunkered in front of a fireplace. “Our heat’s out, and they can’t come to fix it till late today,” explained Ruth.

“Well, good luck with that. Say, I’m doing another survey: Do you think the Bobcats should change the team name to /the Hornets'?"

“Tell you the truth,” Ruth snapped, “I’m more concerned about getting the damned heat back on then whether some millionaire gland cases go by a new name or not.” I decided to leave quickly. Next stop was the friendly, sorta-hippieish couple a few houses away with a yard full of whirligigs and gnomes. When I asked Lance, the husband or boyfriend or whatever, what he thought of the “Bobcats vs. Hornets” controversy, he didn’t say anything at first. Then he still didn’t say anything. Then he asked, “You’re kidding, right?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, you must be kidding. Somebody really gives a shit about a basketball team’s name? No wonder this country’s in such a friggin’ mess.” Lance slammed the door, which I thought was kind of impolite, but I shrugged and continued up the hill to Jack’s Lawnmower Repair, basically a big shed behind Jack's house. I walked into the shop.

"Hi there, Mr. Grooms — bringing in the Toro for a winter tune-up?" asked Jack.

"No, the mower's fine,” I said. Jack frowned. "I'm conducting another survey," I continued, "and I’d like to know if you think the Bobcats should change the team’s name to ‘the Hornets.’”

“I don’t care what they call 'em — Bobcats, Hornets, Dobermans, Petunias, Wheelbarrows — I’ll never go see 'em,” replied Jack, who can be testy even on good days. “Damn tickets cost too much. Plus the team’s not any good, so why should I bother? I’ve got better things to do than think about that kind of crap,” said Jack, hustling me out of his shop. Jeez, you can tell it's the slow season for mower repair. But I was undeterred. Surely someone had an opinion — otherwise, why would people in the media keep talking about the issue, right? I walked to Herb Blanton’s, where he and his wife Betsy were outside raking leaves. When I asked him about the team names, Herb set down his rake and pondered a bit. “You know what I think?”  he asked, “I kind of like ‘the Chargers.’ That’s what I’d call them.”

“’Chargers’?” said Betsy, “what kind of name is that? Call them ‘the Golddiggers,’ after all those gold mines that were around when Charlotte was started.”

“Um, the issue, though, is Bobcats or Hornets,” I reminded them. “Which do you prefer?”

“I don’t like either one,” said Herb. “Me neither,” said Betsy. I thanked them and decided to move on; it was getting colder and my feet were freezing. As I walked back toward my house, I ran into Jenny, a young woman from down the street who, as always, was pushing her two-year-old daughter in a stroller.

“How you doing, Jenny?” I said, “Wonder if you’d answer a question for a survey I’m conducting.”

“I tell you, John, I would, but it’s too cold. I probably shouldn’t have brought Melly outdoors, and we’re headed home. Sorry,” Jenny said as she rushed by. I thought I heard her say something like “Jesus Christ,” so I guess she was praying to get home all right.

I was a little disappointed, but that’s how it goes sometimes in the journalism business. You ask a perfectly reasonable question and can’t get a decent answer. Makes you wonder, though, whether the media’s just stirring up a non-issue issue just to stay busy ... Nah, they wouldn’t do anything like that. Maybe I'll try again when it warms up.

CharlotteBobcatsLogo

OR. . . . . .

images

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