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Bookstore Basketball: Creative team names highlight tourney each year

By Samantha Zuba | Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bookstore Basketball at Notre Dame is the largest outdoor five-on-five basketball tournament in the world. And it’s also a hotbed for creative team names, some more and some less appropriate than others.

For the executive board that oversees the tournament, determining the appropriateness of team names is a balancing act. Senior president Matt Lynch described an involved process that requires the Bookstore Basketball executives to work with the Student Activities Office (SAO).

“It’s kind of a multistep process between our group of Bookstore executives and people at SAO,” Lynch said. “Multiple people work at it to make sure that we get rid of the ones that are inappropriate from the weeks of registration to the tournament.”

Lynch said that one of the biggest challenges for the executive board is anticipating which current events students will use for team names. These names need to be filtered on a year-by-year basis.

“We sit down as our exec group for more of the present-day happenings in the world of sports and entertainment,” Lynch said. “We address some of the themes that may come up and we come up with rules amongst ourselves so we can decide year by year what is appropriate. There are things that come up every year in the world of sports and the world in general that we have to address with names.”

This year, Notre Dame students paid homage to the school’s Catholic heritage by choosing names associated with the pope and the papal election. Two pope-themed names made the official Top 10 list: “We Found Love in a Popeless Place” and “We Like Our Popes Like We Like Our Breakfast: Ex-Benedict.”

“Pope Benedict’s resignation and probably the [election of Pope Francis] was one of the most popular this year, ‘Call Me Maybe’ last year,” Lynch said. “If there’s a hit song, that can be big. This year the ‘Harlem Shake’ was popular with team names.”

A key concern for the executives is eliminating any names that hint at discrimination.

“No discrimination about sexual orientation, race, gender, etc.,” Lynch said.

Another common naming theme is Notre Dame traditions, represented by teams such as this year’s “Dulocked and Loaded.” Lynch said these types of names have become more popular in recent years.

“Every year there’s more and more about dorms or statues on campus, different historical aspects of the school,” he said. “I think it’s an extremely good thing for this tournament. This was Year 41 for Bookstore Basketball. I’m biased because I’ve been involved so much, but I think this is one of the coolest traditions here at [Notre Dame]. It’s a part of the culture here, and it gets summed up in the team names.”

Some students have expressed displeasure at having their team names rejected. Sophomore Chris Firlan said the committee could loosen the reins a bit. His team name, “Peter Northstars,” was rejected this year.

“Personally, I think the restrictions are a little strict,” Firlan said. “If it’s not outright obscene or offensive, I don’t see why they need to censor the names. It takes away a lot of the freedom you need to be able to be clever. It’s why the ‘funniest’ names are lame, out-of-date or beaten-to-death pop culture references.”

Sophomore Tim Scanlan also expressed disappointment at having his team’s name rejected. “Off Constantly” failed the committee’s appropriateness tests last year.

“We were truly saddened that our thoughtful name was rejected,” Scanlan said, tongue-in-cheek. “We merely wanted to convey how ‘insane’ our game was and felt that we couldn’t convey that properly through ‘Team 542.’ We wanted everyone to know how mentally unstable our whole outfit was: constantly off or off constantly.”

Despite complaints from some students, Lynch said he enjoyed the creativity of team names.

“One of my favorite things is to see the creativity,” he said.

Contact Samantha Zuba at szuba@nd.edu