Team Nickname Mega-poll Part 1: NFL & MLB

Now is the time that Sport Change is calling on loyal followers and newcomers to make your voice heard through democratic action.  The team nickname mega-poll has arrived.

Background

For several months, Sport Change has been conducting a ridiculous amount of research on sports team nicknames, or monikers.  Please view The Moniker Monitor, our collection of posts on the subject.  We’ve scoured through the Big Four pro sports leagues, all of NCAA Division I, and Minor League Baseball, among other sources.  There have been rankings, visions of reversion, and gazes directed to the past as well as the future.

Much of this work has built to a series of posts that are forthcoming in the next month or two: the Ideal Leagues.  This series will focus on how the Big Four professional sports leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL) would look if Sport Change ruled the world.  There will some reimagining, relocation, expansion, and yes–name change.  While piecing these posts together, there were several name changes that could go a number of different ways; with many new choices roughly equal.  As such, it’s time to poll the audience.

An upcoming Sport Change post will share the top fifty sports team monikers that Sport Change has deemed most worthy of consideration for pro sports use.  Many of these are used in the polls below, but each poll has one or two unique choices thrown in to reflect the specific geography.  Each poll below also has an introduction to put it into context, and multiple choices.  Please place a vote in each poll and leave comments.  Overwhelming poll results will likely be used in the Ideal Leagues.  Happy polling!

_

Poll #1: An NFL expansion franchise for Arizona.

5879-004-68A92D18

Suspend your disbelief for a moment and put yourself in the year 1985.  The city of Phoenix, Arizona has been pushing hard for an NFL team, and they’ve even suggested that the St. Louis Cardinals should move to the desert.  The city of St. Louis pulls together to keep the Cards in Missouri, but the NFL recognizes the need and decides to award an expansion franchise to Arizona.  The question is: what will the team be called?  One fan suggests the Arrows, a nice alliterative nickname that suggests speed and precision–even if it is an inanimate object.  The General Manager likes color-based nicknames like Browns and Reds, and suggests Golds–a reference to the star on the Arizona state flag.  The team fullback suggests Rattlers, a regionally-relevant name with teeth.  A local reporter likes another name in the same vein–Scorpions.  The owner’s wife suggests Stallions, a powerful masculine image.  A child offers Thunderbirds, a legendary symbol of the region.  To top it off, some guy on the street says, “What about Wolves?  There’s no team called the Wolves.”  What do you think?

_

_

_

Poll #2: An NFL expansion franchise in Indiana.  

RockIslandIndependentsTeamPhoto1919

Once again, the year is 1985.  The NFL has just granted the NFC an expansion team in Arizona, but there needs to be a team in the AFC to balance the conferences.  The obvious choice is Indianapolis, who’s attempt to steal the Colts from Baltimore was narrowly averted a few years prior.  Now Indy gets a team of their own.  But what to call them?  Four suggestions are offered.  The crusty old equipment manager suggests the Independents as a reference to his favorite NFL team when he was a kid: the Rock Island Independents.  “They can be the Indy Indies for short,” he says.  The local newspaper suggests Knights, a solid, simple nickname that may be subliminally influenced by Bobby Knight’s success with the Hoosiers.  A teenager likes Racers–an active name to pair with the NBA’s Pacers and a reference to the Indy 500.  The team owner’s wife heard the Arizona team owner’s wife mention Stallions, and she liked the idea as well.  What’s your take?

_

_

_

Poll #3: A major league baseball expansion team in Arizona

logo

The year is 1997.  Major League Baseball has made the decision to expand the field of teams to thirty by awarding franchises to Tampa, Florida and Phoenix, Arizona.  Tampa chose the nickname Rays–a reference to the Sunshine State.  They briefly considered Devil Rays, but religious zealots and marine biologists were offended.  Arizona announced their name choice–Diamondbacks–but it was met with public outcry.  Despite the cleverness of the baseball diamond reference, the common refrain was, “that sounds like a minor league team nickname!”  Arizona’s front office and marketing team went back to the drawing board.  They found old newspaper clippings from 1985, the year the NFL came to Phoenix, and decided to retread the suggestions: Arrows, Golds, Rattlers, Scorpions, Stallions, and Thunderbirds.  (Wolves seemed inappropriately aggressive for baseball.)  While watching Saturday morning cartoons with his daughter, the marketing manager thought of Roadrunners–a good fit for a speedy baserunner.  The team owner said, “well, why don’t we just simplify Diamondbacks and go with Snakes?”  Your take?

_

_

_

Poll #4: A new identity for the Houston Astros

Houston_Buffs_logo

The year is 2012.  New Astros owner Jim Crane announced that he would like to completely rebrand the team–including a new nickname.  Crane feels that the name was a lazy reference to the old  Houston Astrodome, and he also doesn’t like the ‘far-out’ nature of the name.  That, and the first syllable is basically ‘ass.’  Astros fans who were afraid of change went ballistic on ESPN message boards demanding that the name be kept.  Crane conceded by offering to include Astros in a name-the-team contest.  An old timer remembers when Houston had a minor league team called the Buffaloes, which was a reference to the Buffalo Bayou–the major waterway of Houston.  Another old gun-toter wants a reversion to the Colt 45.’s, but will take Colts in it’s place.  Crane decides against it due to the NFL’s Baltimore Colts having rein (ha!) over that moniker.  The local paper comes up with a few more suggestions: Aces (a wild west reference), Barons (oil barons, that is), Cyclones, Legends, Mustangs, and another horse–Stallions.  Crane assembles the name-the-team choices, but it’s up to you to vote.

_

_

_

Poll #5: The Rays have moved.

Indianapolis Clowns

The year is 2014.  On Bud Selig’s last day on the job before retirement, he forces the Tampa Bay Rays to pack up and leave St. Petersburg.  Cities around the US and Canada scramble to claim the Rays, but eventually the city of Indianapolis narrowly beats out Portland and Louisville to offer the best new venue for the club.  (click here for an assessment of the cities.)  The team must make a decision of whether to keep the decent ‘Rays’ moniker or start afresh with something new.  The Indianapolis Star newspaper holds a name-the-team contest.  In an effort to ensure that the paper won’t have to change names, they cleverly withhold ‘Stars’ from consideration.  Instead, they recycle old name suggestions from the NFL’s expansion team in the eighties–Independents, Knights, Racers, and Stallions.  They also added ‘Clowns,’ as an homage to the old Negro League’s Indianapolis Clowns.  ‘Rays’ was also thrown in for good measure.  The people must be heard!

_

_

_

Bonus Poll!  The International National Football League

NFL-INT

This one could be hard to explain, but results will be incorporated into a separate upcoming Sport Change post.  All will be explained then.  For now, please humor Sport Change and bear in mind that Sport Change has clearly stated it’s opinion on the NFL expanding internationally here and here.  Suffice it to say: Sport Change is vehemently opposed to the very notion.  That said; let’s talk about it.  If NFL teams were placed in the cities of London, England and Mexico City, what would their ideal monikers be?  Bear in mind that the brand would have to be relevant not only in each location, but accessible to American sports fans.

_

_

_

London

NFL team in London.

If an NFL team were in London, what would the nickname be?  Since the idea of putting an NFL team abroad is gimmicky and novel, the moniker should have some leeway with a novelty gimmicky nickname.  It should also reflect and represent London effectively.  For starters, let’s look at the beast featured throughout British folklore and even represented on the crest of London–the Dragon. While on the topic of mythical beasts, how about the Griffin?  To continue with the tradition of Big Four nicknames that are non-pluralable forces of nature (Heat, Thunder) how about the London Fog?  OK, now I’m being a cheeky chap.  Let’s throw in a stoic one–the Knights.  Any others that Sport Change hasn’t thought of?

_

_

_

banderamexico

NFL team in Mexico City.

If an NFL team were to call the ridiculously huge Azteca Stadium home, what would the moniker be?  The most visible national symbol of Mexico is the golden eagle that is featured prominently on the nation’s flag.  The translation for golden eagle is Aguila Real, and Sport Change thinks that Aguilas Real is a little much for an NFL team moniker.  We’ll throw Aguilas on the poll, though.  Good competition for Philly!  San Diego State may use Aztecs, but no city can claim it more than Tenochtitlan itself.  Another national symbol of Mexico is the horse-rider, or Charro.  Crowns are also a symbol, so let’s thrown in Coronas–no beer sponsorship allowed.  There are no Wolves in the NFL, so Lobos is a fair suggestion.  We’ll top it off with Toros.

_

_

_

So there’s part one of our two part mega-poll.  Next up, we’ll look at the NBA and NHL.  Thanks for participating and thanks for reading.  Until next time.

Here’s the link to Part 2.

SPORT CHANGE

Advertisements
4 comments
  1. Maria Maccamini-Cowan said:

    Did anyone else pick Indiana Knights because of Last Dance with Mary Jane?

  2. With the Indiana boys on the Indiana Knight. It’s perfect.

  3. Maria Maccamini-Cowan said:

    With 2-3 million Nahua (Aztec) People still alive, and significant Nahua communities in some American cities, I’m going to say Aztecs is a bad idea. San Diego State uses it and does some bizarre “Aztec” halftime dances to go with it. We can debate the merits of existing Indian nicknames, but in 2013, we shouldn’t be adding new ones. Most Americans would think of “Aztecs” as similar to Romans or Spartans, but there are still a lot of Aztecs out there. You wouldn’t name a team Hebrews or Egyptians. Yes to a team in Mexico. No to England. No to Aztecs.

  4. Make sure to cast your vote for your favorite non-Aztec nickname.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: