Poor Choice of Role Model
University of Idaho Vandals (College)
Amherst College Lord Jeffs (College)
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.
Muhlenberg College Mules (College)
Southern Arkansas University Muleriders (College)
There is not much to say about them, other than if these teams ever play each other, expect sexy results.
Orlando Predators (Arena Football League)
Nashville Predators (NHL)
Colorado Crush (Arena Football League)
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?
Blatant Corporate Sponsorship
West Virginia Power
(Minor League Baseball, brought to you by Appalachian Power)
New York Red Bulls (MLS)
Green Bay Packers (NFL)
Charlotte Bobcats (NBA)
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
Mt. Clemens Battling Bathers
Runners Up:Effingham Flaming Hearts (High school)
Mars Area Fighting Planets (High school)
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.
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."
Racial Sensitivity Award
Mpumalanga Dangerous Darkies
(South African soccer team, early '90s)
Washington Redskins (NFL)
Pekin Chinks (high school, defunct, changed to Dragons in 1980)
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
Kansas City Wiz
(MLS-changed to Wizards, not because Wiz is retarded but because of a copyright violation)
Utah Starzz (WNBA, defunct)
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.
Best In Show
Watersmeet Nimrods (High school)
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.
Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters
(Japanese Pro Baseball, logo created by Cracked)
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.