Less than a week after changing their name to the Ladies’ & Men’s Athletic Organization (LMAO), Directors of the former Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) are working to address the community outrage and public-relations disaster triggered by their recent name-change. In a Press Release accompanying last Thursday’s introduction of new business cards, letterhead and outdoor signage, LMAO Director Helen Crumpleton wrote, “The original name seems increasingly anachronistic in the 21st Century. Three of the four letters in YMCA are no longer accurate or applicable. We’re not just for young people, we’re not just for men, and it’s been decades since we required members to be Christians. Ladies’ & Men’s Athletic Organization is far more descriptive of who and what we are today. It’s also become very hard for us to compete with the prices, services and longer hours offered by Snap Fitness, Curves and many other local competitors. We hope our new name will make us more modern and more welcoming.”
Unfortunately for LMAO Directors, negative reactions to the name-change were swift and loud. By yesterday morning, a local group known as the Morally Indignant Liberty Foundation (MILF) converged on the LMAO’s Mulligan’s Hollow facility, wielding protest signs and distributing leaflets denouncing the YMCA’s name-change. “It’s bad enough that they removed the word Christian from their name, but to replace it with an acronym associated with a vulgar reference to the most profane part of the human posterior is downright offensive”, says MILF spokesman Floyd Lawson. “Members of MILF will be picketing the LMAO every day, until they agree to change their name back to the Young Men’s Christian Association”, warned Lawson.
News of the YMCA-to-LMAO name-change has also gone viral on social networks, even spawning a satirical, look-a-like Facebook Page called Ladies’ & Men’s Fitness & Athletics Organization (LMFAO). Debates on the Grand Haven Informed Facebook Page became so hostile that the Page Moderator was forced to removed all posts and comments relating to LMAO.
“Of course we didn’t change the YMCA’s name to Laughing My ‘A-word’ Off”, said LMAO Director Crumpleton during a sometimes tense press conference this morning, “But we do apologize to anyone offended by the similarity between our LMAO and the one that we now know is used by many computer-people and Tweet-texting youngsters.” Drawing comparisons to Coca-Cola’s public relations disaster with ‘New Coke’ in 1985, when the Company was forced to bring back ‘Old Coke’ only three months after introducing the new flavor-formula, Helen Crumpleton refused to answer the question of whether the LMAO would change its name back to YMCA. “We will certainly listen to MILF’s concerns, as well as those of other groups”, said Crumpleton. “And I can promise you that this matter will be considered and addressed at our next monthly Board Meeting in August.”
Crumpleton repeated several times during today’s media grilling that neither she nor any other Board Member knew that LMAO meant anything other than Ladies’ & Men’s Athletic Organization. According to a Grand Haven Tribune Facebook posting, however, one un-named junior staffer at the former-YMCA has leaked emails and PowerPoint presentations showing the name-change was a calculated strategy to capitalize on LMAO’s ubiquity in popular culture, with the hope of gaining street-cred and hipness that might make the organization more competitive in the modern Fitness Industry. When pressed repeatedly on the issue by tenacious Tribune Editor Alex Doty, the LMAO Director walked out of the press conference, leaving many questions unanswered.
Further investigation by The Grand River Times did manage to confirm that the LMAO is still sponsoring this weekend’s annual Coast Guard Festival Run; the 5k and 10k races will be held on Saturday July 26. According to a brochure obtained at the LMAO’s Help Desk, runners and spectators alike will receive LMAO t-shirts featuring their new Marketing slogan, “We’re The Fun – We’re The Fitness”.