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It used to be easy to name your sports team; just pick a dangerous animal and go. Unfortunately, there are way more sports teams in the world than there are cool animals, and the result is a lot of names that range from lame to laugh-out-loud retarded.

Made-Up Words

Winner:


Webster University Gorloks
(College)

Runners Up:
Hamilton Tiger-Cats (CFL)
Key School Obezags (High school)
Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL)

Breakdown:
From the Webster University website: "The Gorlok is Webster University's school mascot. It is a mythical creature that was designed by Webster staff and students through a school contest. It is reported to have the paws of a speeding cheetah, horns of a fierce buffalo, and the face of a dependable Saint Bernard."

The design team lovingly followed the instructions to the letter and came up with a lion:

The Key School Obezags meanwhile, have cleverly made an anagram of the word "gazebo," which would make no sense unless you knew that the school has a sort of obsession with gazebos, which it does. They don't seem to have a mascot, but with a name like "Obezags" they could have let their imaginations run wild and made it a ferocious clown with a barracuda for a penis. The merchandising would bring the school millions.

Meanwhile, Canada continues to have problems with words, inventing the puzzling "Tiger-Cats," and willfully pluralizing "leaves" wrong. This is a point of "dishonour" to their school system.

Trying Too Hard To Be Hip

Winner:


Philadelphia Soul
(Arena Football League)

Runners Up:
South Dakota School of Mines HardRockers (College)
Indianapolis NW Space Pioneers (High school)
Cleveland Rockers (WNBA, defuncT)
Swing of the Quad Cities (Minor League Baseball)

Breakdown:
"Soul" in this case doesn't refer to the eternal essence of self that many believe humans possess. Rather, it's a style of popular music in the 1970s known as Philadelphia Soul, making it highly relevant when this expansion team opened in 2004. This team was actually co-founded by Jon Bon Jovi, who is to soul what Arena football is to football.


Jon Bon Jovi, as relevant and hip as the team he co-owns.

The South Dakota School of Mines HardRockers and the defunct Cleveland Rockers of the WNBA do have legitimate connections for their wannabe-hip-sounding names. One is a pun on the school's mining focus; the other is located near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. However, they both end up reminding you of when a company tries to put forward a mascot with a backwards baseball cap, a skateboard and some kind of crazy-shaped electric guitar to appeal to "kids today."

The Indianapolis NW Space Pioneers, meanwhile, had the bad fortune to tie its name to the hot current event in the '60s, the space race, and have not mustered the energy to change it since.

Whoever renamed their team the "Swing of the Quad Cities" was obviously trying to go for something hip and fresh, but unfortunately swing is only hip and fresh to a demographic that is, for the most part, now dead.

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Abstract Concepts

Winner:


Thailand Tobacco Monopoly
(Thai soccer team)

Runners up:
Minnesota Wild (NHL)
Stanford Cardinal (College)
St. Louis College of Pharmacy Eutectic (College)

Breakdown:
While the American teams put up one hell of a fight, they were no match for good old Asian wackiness, as the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly soccer team leaves us puzzled and nearly speechless. Being named after a tobacco company would be pretty hilarious in itself. But being named after the concept of the tobacco business being dominated by one corporate entity without any competition, this is truly a masterstroke.

The NHL's Minnesota Wild holds its own, however, being named after a concept whose definition could range from generally uncontrollable to areas untamed by man. Adjective? Noun defining a concept? Who knows. There's a team whose commitment to keeping its opponents guessing runs so deep as to extend to even its name.

Meanwhile, the Stanford Cardinal is named after a shade of red, a concept so difficult to personify that team boosters have just torn out their hair and made their mascot costume a shoddy-assembled tree.


And finally, the St. Louis College of Pharmacy has dug deep into its obscure word bank and come up with the "Eutectic," which turns out is either an adjective referring to an alloy combination with the lowest possible melting point, or sometimes a noun referring to the substance itself. What it really says, obviously, is "We don't have to be good at sports because we'll have nice pharmacist paychecks soon, so enjoy your meaningless victory."

Non-Threatening Animals

Winner:


Hiroshima Toyo Carp
(Japanese Pro Baseball-NPB)

Runners Up:
Brevard County Manatees (Minor League Baseball)
UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs (College)
Columbia College Fighting Koalas (College)
Atlanta Thrashers (NHL)
Montreal Alouettes (CFL)

Breakdown:
Listen, Hiroshima Toyo ... no one is scared of carp. No one is scared of manatees either, Brevard County, but they're bigger, so you slide out of the top spot. One might have hopes for a second that a Toyo Carp is some kind of carnivorous carp, but unfortunately Toyo is just a reference to the sponsoring company. So, they are indeed just carp.

Meanwhile, UC Santa Cruz has chosen the banana slug, mostly as a joke, which at least inspires revulsion if not respect.

Columbia College has made some kind of half-assed attempt to inject some threat by adding the "fighting" prefix to their koala name, but has only succeeded in creating a more ridiculous mental picture.

Two professional teams round out the list by inexplicably choosing small, non-threatening birds to represent themselves-thrashers ...

and skylarks (alouettes):

We can easily picture some team executive hearing "Thrashers" and, picturing fierce teeth and razor-sharp claws that thrash things, saying, "Yes! Go with it!" That guy was probably fired the first time somebody bothered to crack open an encyclopedia. There is no excuse for "Alouette," since it's most famous for having various body parts plucked off, verse-by-verse, in the well-known French song "Alouette."

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Non-Threatening Humans

Winner:


King Faisal Babies
(Ghana's Premier Football League)

Runners Up:
Centralia Orphans (High school)
Cordozo Clerks (High school)
Cairo Syrupmakers (High school)
Wikki Tourists of Bauchi (Nigeria Premier League)

Breakdown:
We can only speculate why a professional soccer team would name itself the "Babies," but odds are they have an odd sense of humor, wish to lull their opponents into a false sense of security, or the ownership was so fed up with the players' whining that they changed the team name as a sort of punishment. Or, possibly it's all three.

Meanwhile, we assume the Centralia Orphans get pumped up for every game by thinking of themselves as impoverished waifs with nothing to lose, because everything they ever loved is gone, which must lead to some awesome pep rallies. The Cordozo Clerks are located near Washington D.C., which is still no excuse, because San Fernando Valley high schools never feel the need to name their teams the Pornstars. Still, the compulsion seems to be universal, vis-a-vis the Cairo Syrupmakers (Cairo being where Karo syrup is made, sadly).

Non-Threatening Inanimate Objects

Winner:


Teutopolis Wooden Shoes
(High school)

Runners Up:

Presbyterian College Blue Hose (College)
Scottsdale Community College Fighting Artichokes (College)
Frankfort Hot Dogs (High school)
Victoria Salsa (British Columbia Junior Hockey, defunct)

Breakdown:
It's hard to explain why wooden shoes don't feel so threatening, as logically, they could be used to bludgeon someone over the head quite effectively. Nevertheless, the Teutopolis Wooden Shoes inspire a sort of stunned, mild lethargy that none of the others in this category were able to match.

The Blue Hose could arguably belong to the upcoming "Sounds Dirty" category, but we chose to take the high road in this case. Meanwhile, the "fighting" prefix does even less for artichokes than it did for koalas.

The Frankfort Hot Dogs continue to prove that the pun is the lowest form of humor, and the Victoria Salsa, whether referring to the dance or condiment, lose badly on either count.

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Sounds Dirty

Winner:


Butte Pirates
(High school)

(Due to forfeit by New Zealand Black Cocks)

Runners Up:
Cleveland Browns (NFL)
Rhode Island School of Design Nads (College)
Deportivo Wanka (Peruvian soccer team)
Chattanooga Central Purple Pounders (High school)
Young Boys Bern (Swiss soccer league)

Breakdown:
Butte County High School takes the prize with their simultaneously appropriate and completely inappropriate team nickname of "Pirates." The New Zealand national badminton team, the Black Cocks, would have beaten them, only the name was shot down at the last minute by the international badminton authorities and the protests of many angry people with no sense of humor. Fortunately, they managed to cancel the naming just in time to save the world's respect for badminton.

It's hard to point out what's dirty about the Cleveland Browns nickname without being crude, so let's just say that one favorite euphemism for number two in the bathroom is, "Taking the Browns to the Superbowl."

The Rhode Island School of Design has an impressive entry with their "Nads" hockey team. It was only slightly diminished by the fact they obviously did it on purpose, which is somewhat atoned for by their team cheer, "Go Nads!" and their school's matching basketball team, the Balls.


The Nads mascot, forcing the team onto this list

Deportivo Wanka of Peru was a hit on their visit to the U.K., although admittedly somewhat puzzled by the snickers that greeted them. For those unfamiliar with zany Brit slang, the "Wanka" appear to be some sort of tribute to masturbation.

Beyond puzzling are the Chattanooga Central Purple Pounders, and last but not least, the Swiss professional soccer team with the vaguely disturbing name Young Boys Bern, who play in Wankdorf Stadium.

Read page two for the most racially insensitive nicknames, and the undisputed worst sports team name in the world.

Poor Choice of Role Model

Winner:


Yuma Criminals
(High school)

Runners Up:
University of Idaho Vandals (College)
Amherst College Lord Jeffs (College)

Breakdown:
It really takes a lot of balls, in this day and age, when we are wringing our hands over getting our youth out of gangs and drugs, to name a high school sports team the "Criminals." It's almost as if they just gave up. "Son, you're stuck in Yuma. I'll just count myself lucky if you grow up to be a dealer instead of a junkie." Admittedly, the school was located in a prison building for three years when first founded, but that was in 1910. Guys, your past does not determine your future. Break the cycle.

Though, on closer inspection of the logo up there, they appear to be specifically Dick Tracy criminals.

The Amherst Lord Jeffs not only have a stupid-sounding name that becomes even stupider when transferred to the girls' teams--the Lady Jeffs--but also are named after Lord Jeffrey Amherst, founder of Amherst and proud distributor of smallpox-infected blankets to Indians.

Meanwhile, the University of Idaho Vandals are more specific in the type of crime committed, which actually works well in a college setting. Now, they at least have some kind of tradition-backed reason to toilet-paper their archrivals' campus the day before the big game.

Supposedly, the team name is actually based on the Vandals barbarian tribe that ravaged ancient Europe. This works out similarly, only they can go as far as pillaging, looting and burning their opponents' campuses the day before the big game, since back then vandals actually took their work seriously.

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Bad Combination

Winner:


Muhlenberg College Mules (College)
Southern Arkansas University Muleriders (College)

Breakdown:
There is not much to say about them, other than if these teams ever play each other, expect sexy results.

Unnecessarily Vague

Winner:


Orlando Predators (Arena Football League)
Nashville Predators (NHL)

Runner Up:
Colorado Crush (Arena Football League)

Breakdown:
The two teams named "Predators" take the prize for choosing a name that encompasses literally hundreds of other team names, including Lions, Tigers, Bears, Panthers, Jaguars, Timberwolves, Raptors, Bobcats, Grizzlies, Falcons, Eagles, Sharks, Wolverines, Child Molesters and many more.

You could argue that the Cleveland Indians have a problem with specificity as well, but historically, European settlers in North America have been unable to distinguish between North American "Indians" and Indians from India, let alone between different tribes. So, it's more of a cultural artifact. Everybody's always known what predators are.

Meanwhile, the Colorado Crush could refer to either the act of crushing, the soft drink Crush or a sudden unstable but intense attraction to another person, neither of which is specified by their logo:

It's always a sign of surrender by the design people when the logo is just the first letter of the name. Why not a simple cartoon of a guy with his scrotum caught in a vice?

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Blatant Corporate Sponsorship

Winner:


West Virginia Power
(Minor League Baseball, brought to you by Appalachian Power)

Runner Up:
New York Red Bulls (MLS)
Green Bay Packers (NFL)
Charlotte Bobcats (NBA)

Breakdown:
How would it feel to be on a team named after a quantifiable commodity quietly piped into people's homes and billed on a monthly basis? Would a little bit of your soul die every day, or would it just keel over all at once when it hit you one day?

The New York Red Bulls probably know the feeling as well, having the dubious distinction of being the first major professional sports team to be named after an energy drink, showing the world that companies are not just going to stop at plastering their stupid names all over stadiums. No, in a couple of years we won't even bat an eye when the Kraft Singles take the field against the Network Solutions. We will dance mechanically to "Crumbelievable" at the seventh-inning stretch, completely dead inside.

It could be argued that the Green Bay Packers pulled something similar by naming their fledgling team in tribute to their original funder, who owned the Indian Packing Company, but at least they settled on something vaguely generic, as opposed to actually calling themselves the Green Bay Indian Packing.

The Charlotte Bobcats, though not strictly part of this category, deserve a mention for the suspicion of being named after the team's owner, Bob Johnson.

Odd Gerund-Noun Combinations

Winner:


Mt. Clemens Battling Bathers
(High school)

Runners Up:

Effingham Flaming Hearts (High school)
Mars Area Fighting Planets (High school)

Breakdown:
Why would bathers battle? Is there limited tub space that only the dominant bathers can win by asserting themselves violently? Is this supposed to refer to the practice of parents washing their small children together in the same tub, upon which they battle over the same bath toy? Is either of these an appropriate image for team sports? Once more the lack of a team logo is huge missed merchandising opportunity. Think two women in a hot tube having a boob fight.

The Flaming Hearts is baffling simply because, regardless of whether your men's hearts are aflame with lust or actual fire, you're still probably not going to win the battle.


Flaming Hearts

The Fighting Planets take us to yet another level of "fighting" objects physically incapable of fighting. No where else to go with that other than the "Fighting Pacifists."

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Racial Sensitivity Award

Winner:
Mpumalanga Dangerous Darkies
(South African soccer team, early '90s)

Runners Up:
Washington Redskins (NFL)
Pekin Chinks (high school, defunct, changed to Dragons in 1980)

Breakdown:
It seems inexplicable that any team could be allowed to have the name Dangerous Darkies, but considering they were founded during the rather tumultuous fall of apartheid in the early '90s makes a little more sense. The team seems to have passed out existence about the time when the government officially decided racism was bad.

Still in existence are the NFL's Washington Redskins, who arguably have a pretty insulting name, as well. On the other hand, the use of that term to actually insult Indians is so outdated that kids these days probably think it refers to some sort of crunchy snack. However, concerned about the potential loss of this slur from our language, the team educationally provides a reminder in their logo.

Since the Pekin High School Chinks changed their name to Dragons in 1980 (thereby still retaining that link to their nonexistent Chinese heritage), you might think that the disturbing era represented by that name is dead and gone, and we might as well toss the name off the list, forgive and forget.

This blog comment, however, from "Robert Brown," seems to show the name is still near and dear to at least one heart. An excerpt: "We wore Chinese costumes and greeted cheerleaders from the opposing team in the middle of the basketball floor before each home game. It was a gesture of a welcome and good sportsmanship. I'm still upset today that the school buckled under and changed the name to Dragons in 1981. It was the result of pointy headed pablum sucking liberals who run the polictical correctness gestopo in this country."

Maybe he's right. Maybe we're missing the point and letting "polictics" get in the way of kids having fun. Who's to say we aren't as bad as the "Gestopo?"

Wrong Demographic Target, Age-Wise

Winner:


Kansas City Wiz
(MLS-changed to Wizards, not because Wiz is retarded but because of a copyright violation)

Runners Up:
Utah Starzz (WNBA, defunct)

Breakdown:
It can be argued that an actual live sports team should not even be named the Wizards, but the Kansas City Wiz decided to just cast off all pretensions to dignity for a name that seems to be aiming for a short, "hip" version of Wizard--already a contradiction in terms--that can easily be confused with slang for "pee." While 5- to 8-year-olds all over Kansas applauded the name, lauding superlatives on it like "funny," "cool" and "neato," they were forced to change the name due to a copyright violation regarding the musical The Wiz.

Meanwhile, the Utah Starzz appear to have been designed to appeal to preteen girls, which, while certainly a worthwhile part of the WNBA's target audience, should probably not be expected to be the entire audience.

A tailor-made name for selling plastic tiaras and stickers probably did not help contribute to the WNBA's drive to be taken seriously, and may partially explain why this team no longer exists.

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Best In Show

Runner Up:


Watersmeet Nimrods (High school)

Breakdown:
We've saved the best for last, the second place going to the Watersmeet High School Nimrods, who, with the stated intention of naming their team after Nimrod, a "mighty hunter" mentioned in the Bible, fail to recognize the word has meant "dumbass" for many decades.

Winner:


Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters
(Japanese Pro Baseball, logo created by Cracked)

Breakdown:
And finally, from Japan, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. The first three words actually go together, so that the team is named the "Fighters" but as Americans, it is our prerogative to ignore the intricacies of other languages, and so this team will always be to us the Ham Fighters. Fight on, Hokkaido Nippon. May you find honor and victory in your eternal battle against ham.

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