I fashion myself as somewhat of a history snob. I suppose that what’s bound to happen when you dedicate most of your time to studying the subject. (By all means I say this grudgingly. I mean, college is supposed to be the best years of your life and I chose to study history.) Naturally this translates to my love of sports. I’ve always had an invested interest in the meanings behind team names. Unfortunately I tend to make it about more than just learning fun facts. I feel the need to scrutinize team names and their relevance to their location.
Our new professional league, Major League Ultimate has recently announced the names of the Eastern Conference teams. In addition their website offers brief explanations for each name. I must commend them on this. The NBA wasn’t there for me when I was sitting around wondering just what the hell a “Clipper” was. I had to my own research. Still, the snob in me is not quite satisfied.
So I’ve taken it upon myself to rank the Eastern Conference names based on my own loose, unavoidably biased criteria of relevance and appeal (5 being the lowest, 1 being the highest). Feel free to scrutinize, as I myself will probably change my mind by the bottom of the page.
Note: All logos are currently unofficial.
I like the name at face value. But bootlegging during the Prohibition Era was by no means uniquely Boston. The alcohol flow was surely rampant there, but the same could be said for other major U.S. cities. (Including cities with more recognizable figures of the era.) This name could have just as easily been given to the New York, New Jersey or Philadelphia franchises. I have a hard time thinking no one amongst those responsible for naming this team considered this. But if using “Bootleggers” was simply too tempting to resist, perhaps it would have been best to save it for the pending Chicago expansion team (See Al Capone and Bugs Moran).
Biased love for West Side Story aside, this is a clever name. It’s the explanation for assigning this name that’s a turn-off: “New York is a city that refuses to give up. It is a city fully prepared to throw down, to mix it up, to rumble.” This statement – which is awfully hokey, by the way – indicates that “Rumble” was assigned partially based on the stereotype of the Big Apple being a rough and tough town. We get it; if you can make it there you can make it anywhere. But once again we have an idea that can too easily be applied to other major cities. However I am willing to reconsider my position. If the team were to perform a choreographed dance-fight scene to the West Side Story Soundtrack at halftime then extra credit is certainly due.
This name is the only one of the conference solely dedicated to the history of our sport. Out of respect for the roots of the game I love, my conscience would not allow me to put this name at the bottom. A part of me would have preferred a more general reference to the location and the name initially came off a bit flat to me. But even as I write this, “Founders” is growing on me. I like the idea of a squad that bears the legacy of originality. If by a year from now their players haven’t begun to call themselves the O.G. Original Gangsters in the team’s inner circle, I’ll be incredibly disappointed. That alternative name is just too good to pass up.
It’s refreshing to see a DC team name that is not painfully obvious or lazy. It takes zero creativity to name a team the Nationals or Capitals. This ranking assumes that the name is primarily meant to refer to the Potomac River (MLU’s website also mentions current events and electricity. Both of which would warrant an instant downgrade). The term “current” conveys a force that cannot easily be overcome, which translates well to sports metaphor for broadcasters and headlines. And how convenient would it be if the team actually lives up to the name? DC fans should keep their fingers crossed for a consistently dominant defensive line known for locking down the red zone.
Kudos to the former AUDL franchise for keeping its name. The reference to the R&B album recognized as the birth of Philadelphia Sound (or Philadelphia Soul) makes for one of the most creative names regardless of sport. Much better than when I assumed it was purely a throwing reference. Should I ever make it out to a Spinners home game, I fully expect to hear some quality soul music from the stadium DJ during play stoppage. Now who do we write about revising that logo?