HAMMOCK: Making the Chiefs or Silverbacks call

Sports Editor Will Hammock 

Sports Editor Will Hammock 

As Mark MacKain sees it, the ongoing voting process by Atlanta's top professional soccer franchise is a battle of demographics.

The current Atlanta Silverbacks' promotion is "Decision 2012. Your City. Your Team." Essentially, the club is allowing its supporters to select the team's future name.

One option is to keep Silverbacks, a name that it began using in the mid-1990s. Another is to rename the franchise the Chiefs, the city's soccer team in the 1960s, '70s and early 80s. Or fans can write in a different name entirely.

Voting, available at www.atlantasilverbacks.com, is up until Election Day, Nov. 6.

"I think it's going to be an age division line," said MacKain, a member of the Chiefs from 1979-81 and currently the director of operations and girls director of coaching at Gwinnett-based youth soccer club Atlanta Fire United. "Anybody over a certain age, and I don't know what that age is, will remember the Chiefs. The Silverbacks will be more popular and current with younger players."

As someone in his late 30s, my vote is for Chiefs.

I like the nostalgia of the name and how it fits with the North American Soccer League's recent relaunch of names from NASL past, like Cosmos and Rowdies. I probably lean that way because I'm in the older demographic that MacKain talked about.

MacKain was a Chief — he was was one of the few to play in the league the year he was drafted out of high school — back when I watched the team as a young soccer player. I remember playing exhibition games before and at halftime of Chiefs games. Somewhere boxed up in the basement I have autographs of players like Brian Kidd, Keith Furphy and Graham Tutt. Heck, I may even have a Mark MacKain signature.

Then again, if the old name returned it would make my throwback Atlanta Chiefs shirt a little less unique. But I'm OK with that.

As for MacKain, it sounds like he would be OK either way. He and his former Chief teammates would be honored to see the former name return ("It's always nice to be remembered," he said), but they would understand if the more recently established name sticks.

And if he filled out a ballot today, the former Chief would vote for Silverbacks.

"If this were 10 to 15 years ago, I'd say Chiefs," MacKain said. "But I think the Silverbacks is the name of the future."

Will Hammock can be reached via email at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock. For Will's World, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willsworld.