by Barry Silverstein

The Super Bowl got us thinking about sports team names. Some professional sports team names really work – like the New Orleans Saints. After all, with the city’s connection to jazz and the immortal tune, “When the Saints Go Marching In,” the name is a great fit.

The New England Patriots – another great fit. Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics – all seem to have a strong connection to the history and people of the areas they represent.

While there are plenty of team names that are good fits, there are some that make no sense at all – names that really have nothing to do with their home or fan base. Maybe these names are holdovers from teams that have moved cities, or maybe they’re just unimaginative. We’ve scoured American professional sports and arrived at a list of our top 5 misfit sports teams:

1. Arizona Cardinals
Have you ever seen a cardinal in Arizona? I haven’t. When the team resided in St. Louis, “Cardinals” made a lot of sense. But in Phoenix, you’d be hard pressed to find a cardinal (the bird, that is), unless it was brought there in a cage. Maybe that’s why it looks so pissed off.

2. Los Angeles Lakers
Yes, the Lakers are beloved by their fans… but their name has nothing to do with LA. Another victim of a geographic relocation, the name Lakers originated in Minneapolis, which means City of Lakes. There might be a lake or two in LA, but you’re probably better off not swimming in them.

3. Real Salt Lake
Major League Soccer tries to replicate the European cachet in naming some of its teams, like Club Deportivo Chivas USA and FC Dynamo. But our personal favorite is Real Salt Lake. Is there a fake Salt Lake? Spanish teams like Real Madrid and Real Betis are so named because the word “Real” means “royal” and signifies that the King of Spain is an honorary member of the team. But last I checked, in the U.S. we don’t have a king.

4. Utah Jazz
Sorry Utah, but you’ve made the list twice. The Utah Jazz is another relocation that should have left the name behind. This basketball team started its life as the New Orleans Jazz (good name!) and moved to Utah after only five years. Salt Lake City and New Orleans couldn’t be more different. It’s hard to believe that after a few years, the team had built enough equity in the “Jazz” name to keep it when they headed for the mountains.

5. Washington Redskins
Well, I guess there were Native Americans in DC at some point, but as we’ve written in a previous blog post, naming sports teams after American Indians can be done the right way and the wrong way. This is the wrong way. The National Congress of American Indians says the name “Washington Redskins” is “patently offensive, disparaging and demeaning.”

I guess when you look at all of these misplaced teams, you start to realize that the decisions end up being about business and not locational awareness. But as with most things in sports, if you’re winning, no one cares — just ask the Lakers.

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