So, you've decided to start a sports team (or a college, or a high school or a pick-up basketball crew). The name of your team is important: it may be the difference between success and failure (see Browns). Hence, a few rules: * ** ***
* Every rule has an exception
** Where possible, I attempt to explain away the exceptions, generally in an attempt to prove my point
*** These rules are in no particular order. Plus, they are debatable- use comments section below.
Rule 1: If you are 12 or under, you can name your team whatever you want. It doesn't have to make sense.
Rule 2: The name of your team should ideally be 2 syllables or less or it will be abbreviated.
Examples: Cardinals become "Cards", Orioles become "O's"; Patriots become "Pats"; Cavaliers become "Cavs". For some, even 2 syllables is too much (Red Sox= "Sox"). On second thought, you might want to stick with 1 syllable, just to be safe.
Rule 3: Avoid adjectives in your name; they will eventually be dropped.
Examples: The Devil Rays are now the Rays; the Mighty Ducks are now the Ducks; the Louisville River Bats (AAA) are now the Bats (which is a pretty good play on words for a baseball team).
Exception 1: If you are a university with religious ties, you may need to maintain a modifier. For example, if you are a Baptist or Catholic school, you can't really call yourself the "Devils" or "Demons", so you might want to be the "Blue Devils/Demons", which is somehow nicer. Or, if you are worried that your team name might not strike fear in the heart of your opponent, you might need to be the "Demon Deacons" or the "Fighting Methodists" (which was the actual mascot at 2 prominent universities and a great trivia question).
Exception 2: If you are describing the color of your socks.
Exception 3: If your team name used to be racist, but you really like your school colors, apparently you are allowed to be come the "Red Hawks" or "Red Storm".
Rule 4: Try to narrow the geography. Only use a state if there are more livestock than people in your state. English Premier League teams are particularly good at this: some are named after neighborhoods in London.
Examples: The California Angels realized that there were 4 other baseball teams in California and perhaps they didn't represent the entire state. So they renamed themselves for the town in which they actually play: Anaheim. But then the renamed themselves as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and then the Los Angeles Angels. Which is not where they are from. Nor do the New York Jets or New York Giants play in New York. And the Washington Redskins play in Maryland.
Exceptions: The New England Patriots. In general, the Patriots are an exception to every rule (except Rule 2 above) because they have found the fountain of youth and their coach knows stuff that no one else knew was actually in the rule book. But I digress.
Rule 5: If you move the team, change the name, especially if the old name was something specific to the old city. This is particularly important if you want to avoid confusion. If your team is something generic (Athletics, Braves, Colts, Giants, Cardinals, Rams, etc.) you're in the clear.
Good examples: Washington Senators (2) become Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers. Cleveland Browns (old) become Baltimore Ravens. St. Louis Browns become Baltimore Orioles. Baltimore seems to be particularly good at this.
Really bad examples: Minneapolis Lakers become LA Lakers (where there are no lakes); New Orleans Jazz become Utah Jazz (where jazz was likely illegal until last week); Brooklyn Dodgers (shortened from Trolley Dodgers) become the LA Dodgers (where people hate public transportation). LA seems to be particularly bad at this.
Rule 6: Do name team something that is meaningful to your town, state or school.
Best examples: Cornhuskers, Boilermakers, Knickerbockers, Banana Slugs.
Further guidance: apparently, you can name your team after a natural disaster that may threaten their lives and property. Hurricanes, Cyclones, Earthquakes all seem to be fair game.
Rule 7: Do not name your team after an owner or coach. Or a color. See Browns.
Rule 8: Avoid Wildcats, Cardinals, Cougars, Eagles, Tigers, Lions, Bears....and Redskins.
Jim is the CEO of i2g Consulting