February 20, 2003

Name That Team...: Slate looks at sports team names in general, and Charlotte's struggle to come up with a name for its new NBA franchise. What are your rules for naming a sports team?

posted by kirkaracha to culture at 03:54 PM - 17 comments

The leading team name candidate is the too cute-'n'-cuddly Cougars; the cleverest one is the Spiders. (Charlotte is a city in the state of South Carolina in the United States.)

posted by kirkaracha at 03:55 PM on February 20, 2003

Charlotte's in North Carolina. I like Spiders. It could work well. Cougars is so generic high school that everybody already has in their hometown. I don't know about rules though. Sometimes you just have to try various things until you hit upon the correct one. It just feels right.

posted by Ufez Jones at 04:23 PM on February 20, 2003

Yeah...my high school's mascot was the cougar, so I would have trouble associating with it with a professional team. And I don't like spiders, so that's out... I would say Webs would be better then Spiders anyway, if they really want to make an E.B. White reference. Their team colors could be red and blue, and the unis could look like Spiderman outfits. And, yeah, Charlotte's in North Carolina.

posted by bcb2k2 at 04:40 PM on February 20, 2003

The thing that didn't get mentioned in the article (to my surprise) is the obvious nickname swap that Utah & New Orleans must do. In addition to returning the Jazz to their Louisiana roots, Utah is commonly known as the Beehive State, which would suit the Hornets nicely.

posted by jonson at 05:34 PM on February 20, 2003

What are your rules for naming a sports team? Ideally, a team name should reflect something about its community. For example, naming the Baltimore football franchise the 'Ravens' was great because it reflected the city's relationship with Edgar Allen Poe, author of, of course, "The Raven." While "Spiders" would be a clever name for Charlotte (presumably after "Charlotte's Web"), is it appropriate for the city? However, seeing as the "Wolf Spider" is the state spider, it might be cool to call them the 'Charlotte Wolf Spiders...' Some possible names, none entirely satisfactory: Charlotte Wrens (State Bird) Charlotte White Tailed Deers (State Animal) Charlotte Shags (State Dance) Charlotte Crescent Moons (State Flag)

posted by Joey Michaels at 06:18 PM on February 20, 2003

I remember everyone giggling over the naming of the Anaheim NHL franchise (Might Ducks) and saying how "stupid" it was. I always liked to burst that bubble by pointing out that the team that they (and I) followed were named after a portion of a plant (Maple Leafs). Some NHL names are really good (Avalanche even though it is one of those Heat/Magic type names, Blue Jackets, Devils), some are bad (Lightning, Panthers, Seals (old California/Oakland team)) and some are just weird (Red Wings, Wild, Penguins). I originally thought that Raptors was a terrible name because it was trying to cash in on a movie franchise that would eventually be forgotten/minimalized. But I have to admit that the logo/name combination has aged well. And Los Angeles has two terrible NBA names: Lakers (stolen from their move out of Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, to Lalaland where they don't have any natural lakes) Clippers (kids don't even know what a clipper ship is, and what does it have to do with Los Angeles?) The Canadian Football League has the most original names:

  • there used to be two teams with the same (almost) name - RoughRiders and Rough Riders (one folded to be reborn as the...)
  • Renegades
  • Eskimos (where Warren Moon became a star)
  • Alouettes / Concordes (Montreal flip-flopped between these)
  • Argo(naut)s (it's been shorted in years gone by)
  • Blue Bombers
  • Stampeders
  • Tiger Cats (never shorted to Tigers)
  • Lions (the most boring of the bunch)

posted by grum@work at 06:33 PM on February 20, 2003

Spiders is good, if a little, errr icky. If not, I'd go for Church. Not sure why.

posted by squealy at 06:44 PM on February 20, 2003

Don't forget the CFL's foray south of the border...

posted by Succa at 07:38 PM on February 20, 2003

HEy, if you're going to have a mascot, name your team after something that would look good as a mascot (by mascot, I mean that giant suit some schmo has to wear at your games and sundry events). And, of course, it should be intimidating and macho. NOT: Earthquakes, Cardinal, Web (wtf?), Crunch (a snack bar?), Sky Chiefs, Leafs, Guy in a tree, Jazz (what, a trumpet suit?), Hurricanes (what, a bunch of blown down houses?), Lakers (somebody's going to wear a pool of water?), Heat, Magic (my god, what genius got paid to come up with that?), what! what! BETTER: The Charlotte ... Gorillas! Sumos! Godzillas! Clowns! Special Ops Team Members! BEST OF ALL: The Charlotte Militia! The mascot could carry guns! Fire some of those off in the arena and see how that pumps up the crowd! Yeeehah!

posted by worldcup2002 at 09:10 PM on February 20, 2003

I like Renegades as a possible name. I do like Cyclones as well. Cougars was the nickname for the Carolina ABA franchise. It would be horrible if they chose this one.

posted by jasonbondshow at 12:13 AM on February 21, 2003

Or, the Charlotte Smokers, with a big cigarette as a mascot. Seeing as how one of North Carolina's cash crops is tobacco, this would seem to fit.

posted by bcb2k2 at 04:08 AM on February 21, 2003

We should go with something local flavored: The BBQ Sandwiches The Jesses Helmses The Grits The Piedmonters THe Nascars The Baptist Churches The Fundies The Generals The Lack of Sidewalks The I-40s The I-85s The Road Cones The Hogs The Hog Lagoons The Turkeys The Farmers

posted by corpse at 06:56 AM on February 21, 2003

How about the Charlotte Starfuckers?

posted by jasonspaceman at 09:27 AM on February 21, 2003

The Clippers name originated in the San Diego, presumably because it's a port. I'm more mystified by the team's continued presence in Los Angeles. Why hasn't some other NBA-seeking city stolen the unloved franchise by now? As for Spiders, it was once the name of Cleveland's baseball team. The Indians should dump the name (and the execrable Chief Wahoo) and become Spiders again.

posted by rcade at 11:20 AM on February 21, 2003

Here's the rule for naming pro franchises: Take the top three submissions from the public and THROW THEM OUT. Most people shouldn't be allowed to brush their teeth without supervision, much less do high-level marketing work. Doesn't the NBA pay people to do that stuff? Now, take one generic and three clever selections and trot them back out to the ticketholders to give them a chance to feel ownership in the new name. Anything's fine, as long as it's not TOO overtly slanted toward a pre-existing merchandising opportunity (Not-So-Mighty Ducks, do ya feel me?!?). As for Charlotte? I do like Spiders (Spyders?), but Cavaliers sounds really smooth, and hey, it's not like Cleveland's actually fielding a team anymore. :)

posted by wfrazerjr at 12:09 PM on February 21, 2003

corpse: I like Hogs. That is cool. I'm thinking of a mascot that's a pig that wears sunglasses and Hells Angels leather, riding in on a Harley. Vrooom vroooom. Grooooooowl. And they can give out free ribs at the games. Oh yes.

posted by worldcup2002 at 12:49 PM on February 21, 2003

Perhaps they should a little democracy in choosing the name. The fans chose to stick with City btw.

posted by squealy at 12:33 PM on February 22, 2003

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