There are many questionable names for sports teams in the professional ranks. Some names have traditions that go back many years, while others are newer names that lack imagination or have very little to do with the city they represent or physical location of the sports team. Some of the greatest teams in professional sports history typically have had more to say about the fan base, city or geographical region, than the team itself.
Many of the greatest team names like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Boston Celtics, Montreal Canadiens and the New York Yankees speak volumes about the history of the each city, their people and the regions that the teams represent. On the other hand, there are some names that don’t seem to match the area, the people they represent or even the sport that is being played. Oftentimes, many of these team names simply don’t sound too competitive to be the name of a sports team or don’t exactly seem to be strong enough to represent a group of athletes looking to defeat an opponent or ultimately win a championship.
Nothing against any of the following 10 sports teams, but their names on the other hand seem like they either lack imagination or rational thought.
10. Vancouver Canucks / NHL
Certainly the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs are names that have plenty of significance and are steeped in history, but for a Canadian city on the West Coast, the name Canucks is kind of a stretch. The name originally has roots as an American slang term to characterize French Canadians or other non-English speakers residing in Canada. The term has since been affectionately used by Canadians to refer to most Canadians in a light-hearted way.
For starters, there are not many French Canadians living in Vancouver and the term simply doesn’t really fit a sports franchise. To top it all off, the logo currently has an angry whale on it. If a Canuck is a Canadian and not a whale, what is going on with the logo? The whale is representative of the Vancouver region, but goes against the idea of the name. So when you add in the bizarre logo to the name that sounds like “yuck” and it becomes obvious that this name isn’t great.
9. Los Angeles Dodgers / MLB
Many of the MLB names go back to an era that we no longer understand, but some names even were questionable back then. The original Brooklyn Dodgers took their name from the trolley dodgers that residents of Manhattan referred to Brooklyn residents in a derogatory manner. Since one of Brooklyn’s earlier ballparks, Eastern Park, was bordered by two trolley tracks, the name “Dodgers” stuck.
The name that originally was a play on Brooklyn fans and residents has come to symbolize a team that has often made a break with convention through the years. The team, now based in Los Angeles, is stuck with a meaningless and outdated name. When the team moved out West in 1958, the freeway was already part of the Los Angeles culture. Unless you consider dodging to be going against the grain, like bringing Jackie Robinson into the major leagues, the name is meaningless to the city of Los Angeles.
8. Washington Redskins / NFL
The name of this long standing NFL franchise has recently come under fire for its perceived insensitivity towards people of Native American descent. The history of the name goes back to when the franchise was in Boston and had to play in Fenway Park in its second season. It was named after the Boston Red Sox and the name stuck even after the franchise moved to Washington and shared a stadium with the Washington Senators. Certainly there is reason for concern about changing the name with the public uproar that has ensued.
7. Los Angeles Lakers / NBA
The historic franchise started in Minneapolis in 1947 and the name at least had some meaning back then. Minnesota is nicknamed “The Land of 10,000 Lakes” and the team name was inspired by this well-known nickname of the state. That all makes perfect sense, but it still doesn’t explain what a “Laker” really is. Is it a boater or fisherman? Is a Laker a type of trout with big teeth?
Once the Lakers moved to arid Los Angeles in 1960, the name really has made no sense at all. Besides anything created by man (reservoirs), the only major lakes in Los Angeles are puddles following winter storms. It is the exact opposite of what you encounter in Minnesota. The name doesn’t fit the dynamic city and the uniform colors do not fit the name, but they continue to be called the Lakers and fans continue to enjoy the name that rolls off the tongue when following Los Angeles.
6. San Jose Earthquakes / MLS
Soccer teams are often unusual to begin with. In the MLS, you have Sporting Kansas City, D.C. United, LA Galaxy, Columbus Crew and Real Salt Lake, to name just a few. They often sound more like athletic clubs, the names of foreign cities or sports associations. Most of these names are simply meant to emulate the names of some of the legendary European teams like Manchester United and Real Madrid to name a few.
Then you have team names like the Houston Dynamo and the San Jose Earthquakes. Surely a point can be made about the Dynamo being pretty lame, but the Earthquakes goes a little too far. Everyone must know that California is famous for having earthquakes and the region around San Jose that includes San Francisco has a history of suffering from major quakes. Add to that the close proximity of San Jose to the San Andreas fault and the name starts to sound like some kind of sick joke. Even though the name goes back to the old NASL, it hits a little too close to home.
5. Calgary Flames / NHL
The hockey franchise was initially awarded to an Atlanta group that owned the NBA basketball team, the Atlanta Hawks, in the early 70’s. For some reason, the team was named after General Sherman’s march to the sea during the Civil War in which most of Atlanta was set ablaze and destroyed by fire. Given the circumstances for deriving the name, it is kind of odd to honor an event that destroyed most of the city in this manner.
The team moved to Calgary in 1980 and kept the name. Now it is even more puzzling to figure out what the name has to do with Calgary, a city known mostly for winter.
4. Utah Jazz / NBA
Sure the Jazz started in New Orleans and it is common knowledge that the city has a long history of great jazz musicians, however, what exactly is threatening about the “Jazz?” Are they going to take out their saxophones at halftime and play music to put the opponents to sleep? There really is nothing about the name that would ever strike fear in any opponent or lend its hand to any mascot or uniforms that could help separate them from the crowd. Following a move to Salt Lake City, Utah in 1979, the name makes even less sense.
3. The Cleveland Browns / NFL
The Browns have a long and rich football history, having been an NFL franchise since 1946. The funny thing about their team name is that their first coach happened to be Paul Brown when he joined the team in its infancy at the age of 36. The Browns were not named after him, but following deliberations by a committee and a naming contest, the name was shortened from the Brown Bombers (Joe Louis – boxer) and stuck.
Currently the Browns are the only team in the NFL without a logo on their helmet and most fans actually consider it to be more of a tribute to the working class fans who are rabid supporters of the franchise. It has, however, made it difficult to make adjustments to their uniforms or helmets and come up with a legitimate mascot at the same time. The name is uninspiring and boring, but just like a solid defense over a high scoring offense, fans in Cleveland seem to like it that way.
2. Washington Wizards / NBA
The name for Washington DC’s NBA franchise was changed from the Bullets in 1997 due to its violent overtones and the high crime rate in Washington DC. A contest was held to choose between five names and the name Wizards came out on top. Now in a city with a predominantly African-American population, the name has racial overtones by glorifying the name of the leaders of the Ku Klux Klan. For the nation’s capital it just seems inappropriate and pretty weak, since Disneyworld is many miles away.
Of course the previous franchise name, The Bullets, was not exactly politically correct in the country’s capital, but to come back with the Wizards just doesn’t seem to help. Last time I checked there was no Disneyland in DC and there certainly are no wizards in Congress. The only thing that works is the “W” in both Washington and the Wizards. Add in the Ku Klux Klan connotations and it seems obvious that there could have been a better name. The Orlando Magic can be easily understood, but not the Washington Wizards.
1. Anaheim Ducks / NHL
Remember the Walt Disney movie about the hockey team that took a bunch of scrappy untalented players and turned them into a winning team? That is essentially why the name was given to the NHL expansion squad in 1993. It is easy to understand the marketing aspects of the name and how Disney initially owned the team, but the Ducks? A duck is far from scary and ducks migrate away from snow and ice in the winter.
The name has stuck and even has been shortened from The Mighty Ducks to The Ducks. Imagine all the tough hockey players who have to text or call family and friends to say they have been drafted by the Ducks (quack, quack). Sounds like joining a boxing team called the Pillow Fighters and doesn’t seem to match the sport. The Angels can get a pass, but in a sport where cross checking and fighting happens on a game by game basis, being a “Duck” can be downright embarrassing.