While I do not write often about sports, a conversation over the weekend brought up another issue regarding team names. Apparently, a Native American group has a campaign going on to rename the Washington Redskins. This brings up the possibility of considering how to re-brand the team. I shall not delve into the controversy of team names and cultural identity (how dare Minnesota have guys in purple tights called Vikings, marginalizing my Norwegian heritage).
Team names typically attempt to merge some images of strength and aggression, with some local feature. Those Minnesota Vikings link the sea-faring warriors with the Norwegian settlers who moved into the farms of those northern plains. Thus, in our re-branding effort, what local characteristics might be related to the Washington region? Geography and politics are two major aspects of Washington, D.C.
Washington’s landscape is dominated by water, immediately, the Potomac River to the east, and more regionally the Chesapeake Bay to the west. There are not many Predator fish, such as Sharks close to the nation’s capitol, but those are hockey team names already (Nashville and San Jose… hockey in those towns?) Terrapins are already taken by the University of Maryland. Crabs are famous from the Bay, but that might upset those from Baltimore, even though they already selected Ravens for their team (I won’t mention the Colts, least I stir up loyalist). Crabs certainly characterize the general social climate in politics these day.
I have seen people fishing off of Hains Point but have been warned not to eat anything from those waters. Catfish live in those waters and are bottom feeders. Now we might be getting somewhere here.
Washington used to be a swamp. Most of the Mall from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol is filled with dirt to drain the waterway and marsh that used to be there. Mosquitos used to be a bigger problem than now, though blood sucking seems to be a good symbol. Hey, the baseball team has the nick name The Nat’s, which is sort of like Gnats, another annoying flying insect the lives around swampy areas.
Now, the Redskins built a new stadium, now called FedEx Field, the Redskins actually play outside the Beltway, in Maryland, not Washington. But, those suburbs sprawl without sense of boundaries between one town and the next, except for the mayors and counsel-members who rule their fiefdoms. Gridlock certainly seems to describe the fans’ experience of trying to drive to the stadium on highway 95 on game days. This has some useful connection with the politics for the past 30 years Maybe, The ‘Burbs would suit their non-urban location. . But, to take the name-shortening the other way, The Subs connects the suburbs with their typical ability to “snack defeat from the jaws of victory,” as a fan likes to complain most weekends. Kind of gets back to those Catfish.
The Potomac River watershed around Washington hosts a variety of mammals, which might provide suitable re-branding name. There are lots of Squirrels running up and down the trees, quite well adapted to urban life. Foxes roam the parks along tributary streams, and could be called The Redcoats… oops, the British might take offense. Now, how about all those deer that munch on people’s prized landscaping, The White-tales. All together, most of the wildlife in Washington are some sort of Vermin. That would do.
Politics, from congress and the White House, to the NGO’s, 501c3 advocacy organizations, and federal service consultation industries, dominate the economic landscape of Washington. This should be full of re-branding options. Washington used to have a baseball team called The Senators, but that seems to be a House with little sense of aggression or threat these days. Maybe the Pork Barrels would link to the pig-skin game. The Bills could follow the legislative process, but we should veto that for I believe Buffalo has the name already. The Lobbyist, Fundraisers, Charitable, SuperPACs? No, not quiet. What really captures their playing style and politics… Ah, The Filibusters. Now there’s a name.