Marketable Sports Monikers

Players of Los Angeles Lakers taking advice from their coach.

All male teams in the major sports leagues in the United States have one individual official nickname. The role of each of these nicknames is to be a cool, marketable brand for the team, and, when cultural or historical references exist, to inspire local patriotism and a sense of belonging in fans.

Looking at the nickname histories of individual teams, and beginning with NHL teams, we see that the Pittsburgh Penguins adopted a moniker fitting the team’s dome-like arena known as the igloo. The Carolina Hurricanes of the same league, furthermore, were named after memorable local storms, and the Blue Jackets of the pro hockey team in Columbus, Ohio, make reference to the many blue-coated soldiers from Ohio who fought in the U.S. Civil War.

Spanish priests

Moving on to baseball teams with equally symbolic monikers, we find that MLB team Texas Rangers was named after its state’s law enforcement agency, and that the San Diego Padres have a nickname honoring a bygone time when San Diego was a Spanish mission station. Harking back not as far as the Spanish mission stations yet going back well over a century, the Chicago Cubs, which is another pro baseball team, got their nickname from the pens of journalists. A local newspaper insisted on calling the young lineup of Chicago’s first professional baseball team the Cubs, and, as it seemed to fit, the name stuck.

Lakes and jazz

Turning to pro basketball teams, lastly, in this field a couple of teams stand out for their paradoxical non-association to their monikers. These teams are the Los Angeles Lakers, who are from a city where there are barely any lakes, and Utah Jazz, who are from a state known for anything but jazz music. The reason why the two irregular nicknames exist is that the Lakers and the Jazz teams once had their homes in areas in the United States known for lakes and jazz, and later kept their popular nicknames when their franchises moved the teams to new locations.