Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What's in a Team Name? [Andy Rooney]

On CBS 60 Minutes, Andy Rooney is reserved the last few minutes of the show to rant about any particular subject. This past Sunday he chose to break down what exactly is behind a team's name:

I was idly reading the sports pages the other day when I came on this headline: "Coyotes Rally To Beat Thrashers."

I couldn't remember what city the Coyotes represent and I never heard of the Thrashers. I read the whole story and found the Coyote were Phoenix but I still didn't know what game they were playing because the reporter never said.

The Coyotes won five to four so I knew it wasn't football. It could have been baseball or soccer but probably not in January so it had to be hockey.

In another paper, a story read "Latta, Pringle Lead The Way As Tar Heels Rout Hokies." Again there was no clue as to who the Hokies were or what game they were playing.

Sports editors need some kind of nickname clearing house. They'd approve or disapprove of any name a team wanted to adopt and eliminate duplications. There are lots of team nicknames associated with just one city. No soccer team in Wisconsin could call themselves "The Yankees", for instance. It's good that way.

If you're from Pittsburgh it would be hard to imagine a better team name than "The Steelers."

Boston has the Red Sox and the Patriots.

There aren't many sports fans who don't know "The Tar Heels" are from North Carolina.

Dozens of animals regularly have teams named after them.

I was looking just at animal names starting with the letter B that are popular team nicknames: badgers, bulls bears, beavers, bobcats, broncos, bulldogs.

Some birds make good team nicknames — there are hundreds of Eagles for instance. Lots of hawks, blue jays, cardinals, owls. But not many robins or sparrows.

Some animals just don't lend themselves to being team nicknames: I can't think of any team named the elephants, the sheep, the goats, pigs or cows.

Years ago there was one well-known sports writer who refused to use team nicknames at all. He reminded me of my mother. She always called me Andrew.

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