Monday, January 19, 2015

What is in a name, as Christopher Marlowe said. Well if you are Frank Zappa's children (Moon Unit and Dweezil) apparently quite a lot.

Being officially vela, I have been following the Big Bash League. While involved in this perilous pursuit, I happened to be struck by the peculiarities of nomenclature of sports teams.

The names that the teams have, all sounds like standard sports team names. For instance, let us consider Brisbane Heat. The team is , as described, from Brisbane, and from vague memories of Class 7 geography and what I from what I have seen on TV Heat adequately describes Brisbane in December. However, they are languishing at the bottom of the heap at the time of writing this, so they don't seem like very hot stuff. It must be noted that this team is not to be confused with a basketball team from Miami.

There is another all purpose team name, that is found across sports. Hurricanes. The guilty team here in the BBL is Hobart. Dear Hobart, if you really want to be thought of in the same way as a natural disaster, why not name your team Hobart Tony Abbot?

Amongst the non BBL team names, the funniest Aussie cricket team name has to go to the Victoria Bushrangers. Bushrangers? Seriously? Does Victoria have an endemic pubic lice problem (the state -not Posh Spice)? It sure sounds like that is what they are expertly hunting, pubic lice. The comedy writes itself. Hussey is at the wicket, he is joined by Sidebottom who is a bits an pieces player, he does a bit of lice, and a bit of puss like discharge.

Moving away from the antipodes, let us examine an issue that is closer to home. The Indian Premier League (IPL).

Gentle reader; let us delve into an issue that is extremely close to my heart. My hometown,  Hyderabad. Hyderabad, like many other cities in India has many serious problems. These include: lack of adequate municipal water supply, over-exploitation of ground water, disappearing lakes, polluted River Musi, ocular assault by pink banners, inadequate public transportation, frequent strikes/ bandhs and worse still, a cricket team that goes by the name Sunrisers Hyderabad. To my ear, the name sounds like a bunch of chai coffee waalas at a mid size railway station trying to peddle their watered down instant coffee. This team was formerly owned by Deccan Chronicle Holdings, Pvt Ltd. and was therefore called the Deccan Chargers. That made the team sound formidable - didn't help much with the performance however, except for that one season in South Africa that fans longingly remember as the good old days. From San Diego to Hyderabad, Chargers is a name that seems common.

Another IPL team Royal Challengers Bangalore is named after...packaged drinking water, not unlike for instance,  the New York Red Bulls, in the US Soccer League. Corporate sponsorship of teams does indeed lead to interesting names. Another such example is the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly Football club.

Further exploring the home of most sports league, let us stay in the United States for a while, visa permitting.  The Cincinnati Bengals are an American Football team named after two places. To rectify this situation and restore balance in the Universe, the Philadelphia Phillies spring to the rescue, albeit in a different sport. Just in case you missed where they were from, they tell you. Twice.

Some college mascots and teams are equally hilarious. The Rutgers University's Scarlet Knights. When you say the name out loud, it sounds like the name of one of those low budget soft porn movies that used to play in Lamba Theater in Secunderabad.  Something that beats that, the baseball team at Long Beach State is nicknamed - The Dirtbags. Another such example of low self esteem is the UC Santa Cruz -Banana Slugs.

After all this, I someday wish to make so much money, that I could buy a sports team - just so that I could name them vulgarly. Sucks for the players and fans. But hey, at least someone will get a laugh out of it (hint: me), and that is what is important.