Professional Sports Team Names and Franchise Histories
(For college team name listings, go to
College Team Names)
aming sports teams is a game with no rules.
You might think that since sports are coordinated activities directed at objective
goals following absolute rules, the contestants nicknames should suggest allegories
to real battles in the real world. For example, Pirates vs. Mariners, Cowboys vs.
Indians, David vs. Goliath, Sun vs. Rain, Wellington vs. Napoleon. But alas, no
what we have are fractured allegories like Tigers vs. Rockies, A’s vs.
Indians, Colts, vs. Packers, Red Wings vs. Maple Leafs.
When two teams meet, headlines of that contest often play along
with the suggested metaphor, if there is one, like “Tigers Maul
…” or “Giants Stomp …” Unfortunately these headlines
and stories are usually half-witted because look who the Giants stomped, the
Rockies. What is the imagery in describing a basketball game between
the Atlanta Hawks and the Miami Heat? Is it a large bird being chased
by a flaming basketball? How do you visualize the mascots in a contest
between the Vikings and the Jets? Is it Eric the Red thrusting a
lance into the side of a Boeing 747? And what in the world is the
allegory for a game between the Jazz and the Magic?
And it gets worst. If two Miami Basketball players get together are they a
couple of Heat? What kind of mascot do the Galaxy have? Do the San Jose
uniforms “Clash?” Soon any word in the dictionary will be fair game
in this game without rules. Why not the Gainesville Disinterest,
the Boise Aplomb, the Utica Expunge, or the Salem Twitch?
I think we need to get back to basic sports values where rules are the
rule and team names make visual sense and real mascots. Even
more, I think professional team names need to be coordinated within each
sport and each league. Perhaps we need a federal law that mandates
each sport to adopt a theme for its team names? For example, football
teams would have to be named after a class of people, like Pirates,
Knights, Pilots, etc. while baseball teams would use mammals, hockey
would take celestial things, such as Comets, Suns, Cepheids, etc.,
and basketball would follow fruits and vegetables.
Each league or division of a sport would use a subclass of the theme;
so, for example in baseball’s zoology, the teams of the National
League would be named for marine creatures as Dolphins, Sharks,
Tuna and Octopi and the American League would use birds like Eagles,
Hawks, Sandwich Terns, and the Tropical Boobies.
Just imagine how informative such nicknames would be as you turn
to the sports page and read the headline, “Apples Get Cored” or
“Carrots Are Shredded.” Clearly we are talking basketball here.