The Colorado Rockies have dominated sports headlines lately because of their unlikely and unprecedented run to the World Series. The Rockies interest me, but not because of any reasons having to do with baseball. You see, I like their name. They are named after a large inanimate object that instead of provoking images of a dominant predator – like a Grizzly or Lion – stirs up thoughts of skiing and logging issues. I’ve always been interested in teams’ names because I think they are statements on the culture and era from which they originate.
Many high school, college and professional teams have chosen to model their images on furry animals. There are too many Bears and Tigers. I’m interested in names like the North Carolina Tar Heels, maybe a Civil War relic named after Confederate soldiers who stood their ground like they had “tar on their heels” or a reflection of the state’s early tar exporting economy. Then we have the Indians and Braves and Redskins, all curious ethnic choices that would not fly if proposed today. And who’s making decisions at Oregon’s colleges? The Beavers and the Ducks? Should we be concerned about the large predator habitat in that Western state? But perhaps I’d rather be a Beaver in Oregon than a Gopher in Minnesota.
The Yankees clearly reflect another era. Whether the Yankees were named as an alternative to the “Americans” or their roots have more of a Civil War influence, it’s safe to say no new team today would call itself that. I do prefer Yankees to their original name – the Highlanders. Some teams opted for socks – the Red Sox and White Sox.
We also have the Sun Devils, the Gamecocks, the Jazz and one of my favorites, the Buckeyes, named after a tree that bears nuts and has stinky leaves – traits sure to strike fear into the heart of an opponent.
I love being a native of Montana. I love the culture of the West, the mountains, the whole package. So I like to give kudos to the features that make up the West, like the Rocky Mountains. If a professional team took the initiative to name themselves after those mountains, I say “Go Rockies.”
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