Quick: what’s the longest name in all of North American professional sports? No cheating, googling, etc. Just sit on your answer for me; we’ll come back to it.
As I’ve watched the lively debate surrounding the potential for a name change in the SBC, I’ve had to admit a certain apathy. In many ways, it mattered not to me how we organized the letters that form our identifying nomenclature, so the convention’s name was off my radar. Then, of course, I realized it really did matter to me; there are certain words I to which I certainly would object (satan, hate, platypus, Calvinist, pudge-pot, Arminian, yahtzee, Yankee, SEC, etc). Therefore, I’ve decided to have an opinion.
As I understand the debate, there are those who dislike the geography in “Southern.” There are some who abhor the racial history behind the choice of the “Southern.” There are some for whom the entire name represents something outdated. At the same time, there is something to be said for keeping a name; after all, if modern branding and market have taught us anything it is that a name stands for the organization. Say the word “Coke” and people have visions of black liquid, bubbles, and a red label. Say “IBM” and everyone thinks of business-world computers and printers. Say “Apple” and everyone thinks of cool envelope-pushing computing and technology. Some proponents of the status quo rightly argue that everyone knows what the Southern Baptist Convention stands for, and that changing our name would raise questions over this “new” organization and what beliefs changed along with the name. My sister counts herself in this group, saying, “When I say I’m a Southern Baptist, ain’t nobody in the room gotta ask what that means.” She’s right, but that does not mean the concerns raised above are somehow invalid.
So what’s a reasonable compromise?
Why not take a page from the International Mission Board’s playbook? They realized that the letters “IMB” have come to represent the entire name but they wanted to eliminate something about the full title; in the end, they changed the name of the entire organization to simply IMB. The letters no longer mean anything. That’s just the name of the company. Kentucky Fried Chicken and International Business Machines took that particular route. NASA, essentially, has followed suit (despite what the official paperwork might say)
Why not just change the convention to SBC? No racial implications, no geography. Branding issues remain unchanged.
Now, let’s revisit the trivia question at the time. If you answered, “the New York Metropolitan Baseball Club” then take the rest of the day off. On your way out the door, answer this: has that team lost anything just because we only refer to them as the Mets?