Former Sixers mascot, Hip Hop, the athletic basketball-playing rabbit who wore an urban doo-rag, was given his walking papers as the new team management claims that fans no longer liked him. At one time, Hip Hop’s antics of high-flying action during half-time and time-outs was considered a “crowd pleaser.”
So what happened? Could this change of heart over mascots actually have racial undertones? Are the 76ers trying to appeal to a more mainstream white family sports atmosphere by commissioning Disney’s Jim Henson Creature Shop to create a cartoonish replacement mascot instead?
One basketball blog that we read claims that Hip Hop was the Sixers mascot that nobody really liked. After allegedly polling season ticket holders about their game-day experience, Hip Hop was dropped like a bad habit. Did it really need to take 11 seasons of Hip Hop-ness to come to this conclusion?
Philadelphia 76ers CEO Adam Aron claims that the mission of ownership is to rekindle the bond, rekindle the connection between the Philadelphia sports fans and the Philadelphia 76ers. “A major step in that rekindling process involves getting people back into the arena.” says Aron. In terms of percentage of seats filled, the 76ers ranked dead last in the NBA last season.
Obviously the new 76ers’ owners are vying to return to the glory days of when Pat Croce was general manager and the town adored their basketball team. Back then, the arena crowd was predominantly white. This change of mascots could be viewed as a demographically motivated move to re-start in that direction.
Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson could not be reached for comment.