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Sports Authority

Mazurek: Nicknames need improvement

| Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Sports fans of the world, I speak to you today to bring your attention to a very large problem. This problem has plagued every league and it will only continue until we, as fans, demand change.

The problem: too many stupid nicknames.

Look around the sports landscape, and you’ll see what I mean. There are nicknames that make no sense. There are nicknames that are lazy. There are nicknames that are offensive. And then there are nicknames that are just plain dumb.

In a day and age where we have awesome names for virtual reality units like Oculus Rift, we still have actual sports teams named the Pacers or the Clippers.

If you know what a Pacer is, please contact me, because I would like to know. Same goes for the Nets or the Knicks or the Lakers … or the Chargers or the Mets or the Phillies or the Billikens. I know the Lakers have won 16 titles, but what lake are they named after, pray tell?

And even if you gave your team a made-up nickname, at least that’s better than being so lazy you named your team after a color. Looking at you Cleveland (Browns), Cincinnati (Reds), Alabama (Crimson Tide), Harvard (Crimson) and Cornell (Big Red).

Unless the Syracuse Orange are playing the Springfield Colorblind or the Grand Rapids Rappers, a color is a pretty dumb nickname.

But even a color is better than a racist nickname. The Washington Redskins is just plain offensive, and even the Blackhawks and the Fighting Irish are mildly racist as well.

And then, there are some that are just plain dumb. We have two baseball teams named after socks. If you’re going to name a team after an article of clothing, use something exciting like the cumberbunds because socks are things I lose when I do laundry, not a baseball team.

Oakland Athletics? Why not the Oakland Hand-Eye Coordinations? Montreal Canadiens and Houston Texans? How lazy can you be?

Also, New York, just a heads up, it’s not 1865 anymore. Yankees may not be the best name, and neither is the Rebels for that matter, Mississippi.

The one thing the Pacers and the Orange have going for them is originality. The nicknames mentioned above stand out because almost every other team in sports decided to go with some sort of animal.

In collegiate sports there are currently 76 teams with the Eagles as their mascot. Seventy six. There are 46 Tigers, 40 Bulldogs, 33 Panthers and 28 Hawks. In the “big four” professional leagues there are two Cardinals, two Giants, two Rangers, two Jets, two Panthers and two Kings. If the point of a nickname is to give your team identity and pride, these ones fail miserably.

The good news is there are some teams that get it. Nicknames like Buccaneers, Rockets, Avalanche, Diamondbacks and Patriots sound intimidating and reflect the identity of the area the team is from. The WNBA excels at this as well, sporting mascots like the Fever, Mercury and Lynx.

Even more examples can be found in the realm of esports. Regular readers of the Sports Authority know that I’m a big proponent of esports and nicknames are one reason for this.

Just some examples from League of Legends include the Immortals, Cloud 9, Renegades, Origen, Elements and — my personal favorite — the Unicorns of Love.

While the Lakers of Love is unlikely to become a thing, traditional sports need a nickname makeover.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Marek Mazurek

Marek is a senior history major and is a former resident of Carroll Hall. He has lived in Mishawaka or South Bend for all 21 years of his life and covers Notre Dame football and men's basketball. He has loads of hand-eye coordination but lacks the height to be any good. Marek is also a proud esports supporter.

Contact Marek