Sport | Columnists
Given the opportunity to name a sports team, some people have used their creative talents to instill courage in the hearts of athletes and fear in the minds of opponents.
Others, however, have missed the mark entirely, and some have simply flopped it.
Perhaps intoxicated by the pressure of the task, those responsible for the strangest monikers can be found in the United States.
Minor League baseball teams don’t seem to care at all what they’re called, and the league features brands including the Montgomery Biscuits, the Akron Rubberducks, the Toledo Mud Hens and the Lansing Lugnuts.
Collegiate sports teams have made some equally bizarre decisions, with UC Santa Cruz calling their teams the Banana Slugs, while Campbell University’s basketball side are known as the Fighting Camels.
Many teams pick names which evoke fear – opting for everything from wild animals to natural disasters – as is the case in South Africa.
And this makes sense.
Other outfits, however, are probably hoping to be underestimated by carrying the most tame of labels.
By name alone, some sides instill no fear at all, including National Hockey League (NHL) team the Toronto Maple Leafs, National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise the New Orleans Pelicans, Minor League baseball club the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, and Namibian rugby side the Welwitschias, who are named after a plant.
And no baseball squad will be sweating if they are drawn in the fixtures against the New Orleans Baby Cakes.
For some, mythical creatures have been the way to go, resulting in the likes of the Webster University Gorloks, whose mascot is a beast with the paws of a cheetah, the horns of a buffalo and the face of a dog, and local rugby outfit the Griffons, who are named after a legendary animal with the body of a lion, and the head and wings of an eagle.
Some names have done little good and have attracted controversy.
The Washington Redskins have retained their label and logo, despite being widely criticised for allegedly using offensive references to native Americans.
The Ethiopian Clowns baseball side changed their name before they were disbanded in 1962, and the Aboriginal All Stars (an Australian Rules football team) played under that name only once in 1983 before they became known as the Indigenous All Stars.
Of course, not all monikers are bad or bizarre.
Some are great.
Whoever labelled NHL ice hockey team the Colorado Avalanche was on their game that day, as was the individual who picked the moniker for NBA side the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Australian football clubs have also done well, with the top-flight A League featuring the likes of the Brisbane Roar, Melbourne Victory
and the Perth Glory.
The best name of any sport team, however, must surely belong to English Championship football side West Bromwich Albion.
I don’t know why. It just does.
Whether worthy of battle or not, teams around the world carry a wide range of tags on their backs.
Fortunately for some, including baseball outfits the Hartford Yard Goats and the Richmond Flying Squirrels, sports results are not all in the name.
If they were, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp might never win a game again.
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