The names of sports teams have now become a political statement for many Americans — much like the partisan reaction to the removal of statues of the Confederacy’s Civil War leaders. And in many cases, as in this week’s Economist/YouGov poll, America does not like change.
Cleveland's top baseball team is no longer called the Cleveland Indians, but has become the Cleveland Guardians. The name was inspired by the statues (the Guardians of Traffic) on the columns of the Hope Memorial Bridge, the bridge that spans the Cuyahoga River and leads to the team’s stadium, Progressive Field.
Two-thirds of Americans (64%) have heard about the Cleveland team’s name change. Men are more attentive to this change (70% have heard about it) than women are (59%), and older adults more aware of it than younger ones. About four in five adults who are 65 and older (78%) have heard a lot or a little about the name change, compared to 44% of those under 30.
But while most adults are aware of the change, many don’t like it. The country overall is closely divided (38% approve, 40% disapprove), but among those who have heard a lot about the change, half don’t approve (43% approve, 50% do not). Republicans (14% vs 71%), men (35% vs 49%), and those living in the Midwest (33% vs 43%) where the Cleveland Guardians play, are negative about the team’s name change.
Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between July 24 - 27, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 2.9% for the overall sample.