Dumb American sports team names

by awindram

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Not only does moving to the US mean learning whole new sports, it also involves familiarizing yourself with new clubs. In doing so, what clearly becomes apparent to the newly arrived immigrant is that the American population struggles when it comes to naming a sports club…sorry, I mean sports franchise and not sports club – franchise sounds far more pleasingly corporate.

So here we go, sports franchises with dumb names. Yes, I know that there are also plenty of British sports teams with dumb names too. Sheffield Wednesday must be a confusing one for immigrants to the UK. Likewise, any American following English soccer would be forgiven for wondering why Wolverhampton, Bolton and Wycombe are all Wanderers? Are their stadiums, in fact, masquerading as gypsy caravans? Also, it’s okay to be called a Harlequin if you’re an Italian clown or a publisher of trashy romantic fiction, but for a rugby team as is the case with London Harlequins? Nah, not feeling that. And further afield is no better. In the Côte d’Ivoire there’s a soccer team called the ASEC Mimosas, though, in fairness, they are named after the shrub rather than the cocktail. And the less said about Young Boys of Berne the better. Any club that allows tabloids to get away with headlines such as “Young Boys spanked by Harry Redknapp” deseves nothing but contempt. But my interest today is not so cosmopolitan (second cocktail reference in one paragraph) and is concerned only with dumb American team names. What’s particularly annoying with a number of these (particularly with the MLS) is that their oddness doesn’t lie with a titbit of trivia from the dim, distant past as is the case with the Yankees or Red Sox, or for that matter the likes of Sheffield Wednesday. No, their dumbness or asininity came about after far too much thought into what constituted the best possible name.

San Diego Padres (Baseball)

Vikings, Giants, Lions, Titans. If you want a tough team then they need a tough name. A man’s name. Well not an actual man’s name. The Minnesota Dereks would clearly be a ridiculous name. What I mean is tough-sounding;  maybe name it after something a little on the scary side. What did San Diego decide to go with? The Padres. That’s right, they named themselves after Francisian Friars. Wow, I’m really shitting myself in fear with that name. What next? The Miami Rabbis?   

 Chicago Maroons and NYU Violets (Collegiate)

Throughout the whole world the truly unimaginative sports team will name themself after a colour. It’s up there with starting a novel with the lines “it was a dark and stormy night.” Some kudos should go to Chicago and NYU for eschewing the obvious colour choices of blue and red, but points off for the lameness of the colours they chose and the wannabe interior designer specificity of shade  – no purple or dark red for Chicago or NYU. 
“Who do you support?”
“The violets.”
“That sounds a bit shit.”
“No, it’s a good name…really good name…good colour”
“So you’re named after the colour and not the flower?”
It’s also limiting in terms of what you can do with your mascot. I’m guessing both just have a guy dressed up as a Crayola crayon.

UAB Blazers (Collegiate)

 In my little immigrant head I just assume that the team has to play in actual blazers. That’s even too preppy for Cornell.

San Jose Earthquakes (Soccer)

You’re a sports franchise based near the San Andreas fault, everyone is just waiting for the big one . What should you call yourself? How about the earthquakes? You know, one of those things that might occur at any moment and kill us all. Yeah, that’s a great name for our soccer team. 

Real Salt Lake (Soccer) 

Okay, so we’re a soccer team, yeah? And Real Madrid is also a soccer team, yeah? And Real Madrid is also, like, a really good soccer team, yeah? So, let’s just name ourselves Real Salt Lake.
Ah, the naming of Real Salt Lake, when stupidity met hubris. Not only are you going to name yourself after the most successful club in your chosen field, but you can’t be bothered to figure out that Real is in fact an honorific title bestowed on a club by the Spanish royal family and isn’t something you can just name for yourself.

Utah Jazz (Basketball)

Another entry from Utah. This name was a perfectly fine, if ever slightly quirky, name when the franchise was based in New Orleans. New Orleans Jazz – makes sense. Move the team to Utah, well, you’ve really got to change that name. Take a leaf out of the Padres book. Go with Utah Elders. Don’t keep it as Utah Jazz. It’s just silly now. You expect me to believe the Mormons are all about the jazz?

Washington Redskins (Football)

 It’s un-PC in America to say Red Indian. The correct team is Native America. Polite society dictates that everyone should follow this rule. Unless, of course, you’re talking about sports teams in which case it’s absolutely fine to keep way-out-of-date racial stereotypes going. Yes, I’ve chosen the Redskins, but it could have been one of any number of American sports teams that plays on stereotyping Native Americans.

Anaheim Ducks, formerly The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (Hockey)

Hey, remember that film The Mighty Ducks? What do you mean you’ve tried to repress the memory? Well, do you remember how it was about hockey? Well how would you feel if someone, say Disney, created an NHL team and called it, yep, you guessed it – The Mighty Ducks?! Wouldn’t that be the best thing ever? Wouldn’t you love to support a team that’s named after a kid’s movie from the early 90s starring Emilio Estevez? Nothing says authenticity quite like a sports team named after a Disney movie about a team that really, really sucked at the game. It’d be like renaming Newcastle Utd, Jossy’s Giants. Actually, at  the right price, I wouldn’t put that past Mike Ashley.

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