“Ladies and gentleman. The opponents for Super Bowl CXII will be the San Francisco Guinea Pigs and the Carolina Butterflies.”
Or how about this one. “The Stanley Cup finals this year feature the Calgary Lambs facing their arch-rivals, the Pittsburgh Baby Seals.”
It doesn’t fit, does it? Tradition has sports teams taking names like Lions or Tigers or Hurricanes or Hawks. We want them to sound like winners, like tough guys, like invincible creations.
With this in mind, you might be surprised to know just how many names from nature are used by North American professional sports teams.
Let’s have a look, starting with mammals:
In basketball: Chicago Bulls, Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks, Dallas Mavericks, Minnesota Timberwolves.
In hockey: Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, Arizona Coyotes.
In football: Hamilton Tiger Cats, BC Lions, Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, St Louis (soon to be Los Angeles) Rams.
In baseball: Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers.
Here are the bird names:
In basketball: Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans Pelicans.
In hockey: Detroit Redwings (though the origin of this name has non-bird origins), Pittsburgh Penguins.
In football: Montréal Alouettes (an alouette is a lark), Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals.
In baseball: our beloved Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, St Louis Cardinals.
Some other creature names: San Jose Sharks (hockey), Miami Dolphins (football), Arizona Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay Rays and Florida Marlins (baseball).
And finally, names which come from objects or weather:
In basketball: Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Oklahoma Thunder.
In hockey: Carolina Hurricanes, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs (shouldn’t that be Leaves?)
In baseball: Colorado Rockies.
In Lacrosse: Toronto Rock.
In soccer: Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, Los Angeles Galaxy, Portland Timbers, San Jose Earthquakes, Vancouver Whitecaps.
GO Springer Spaniels GO!!