New Orleans Pelicans: An NBA Team By Any Other Name
Mascots for professional sports teams should inspire fans. They should evoke imagery and aid in providing a concept to which fans can grab hold and attach pride. They should take a concept already linked to the area and build upon it. When deciding on the mascot for a team, the ownership should take enough time to get the correct name, as millions of sports fans world-wide will form their opinion, whether they root for the team or not. In replacing the mascot for the NBA’s New Orleans franchise, a groan-worthy choice was made.
There’s no other way to describe it, New Orleans Pelicans just doesn’t initially evoke strong, positive feelings for a sports franchise.
Retaining the Hornets mascot name which came to the city with the team would have been better, but wanting to have a new identity is understandable. An ideal option would have included some sort of buy-out to reclaim the name “Jazz” from Utah’s team, which brought the name with them when they left New Orleans in 1979. A Salt Lake City-based team’s mascot would be more appropriately named one of the following options:
Saints – it’s not unusual for a team in one sport to have the same mascot as a team in a different sport. Fans who liked the name Jazz as a link to the team’s roots in New Orleans would maintain that aspect of the mascot because of the link here to the New Orleans NFL franchise. It also privides a link to the area’s predominant religion, as 58% of Utah’s population cites the Latter-Day Saints as their religion. Another 10% of the population claim Catholicism, another religion with strong ties to the notion of saints. Another option along similar lines would be Bishops, which are not only religious in nature, but also featured prominently in the game of chess.
Pioneers – in the 1800s, Utah was settled by individuals seeking to establish a home of their own where their culture could flourish, and this name could celebrate that. In the same respect, the name Scouts would not only capture the adventurous spirit, but also draw a loose affiliation with the Boy Scouts Of America, a like-minded service-oriented organization which many Latter-Day Saints support.
If it’s a music-related link the franchise wants, the world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir could be referenced with the name Choir Boys. Before dismissing this option, just consider the positive impact this could have on involvement in choral groups and the reputation of their members. At a time when anti-bullying efforts are on the rise, it could help those who are musically-inclined to be better socially accepted if professional athletes are wearing the term on their sleeves. Literally.
Being realistic, the Utah franchise has plenty of fans who are accustomed to the name Jazz, and there’s really no need for that team to switch their mascot.
River Dogs – with New Orleans being situated at the base of the United States’ longest river, the team could have targeted that aspect of their geography and taken to a name which has been used by various minor league franchises in various sports in other cities.
Carnival – though the concept is religious in nature, it also speaks to a season for having a good time, which ties directly to Mardi Gras, a concept which is linked just as directly to the city of New Orleans as the name Jazz
VooDoo – though not necessarily the most upliftingly positive concept, the idea of a dark magic which inflicts pain and mystically takes control of others could be an ominous term with a certain style attached to it. They wouldn’t be the first organization which uses the name to link itself to the area
Cajuns – using this term would continue the ties to a strong ethnic identity including the French influence in the area, which the franchise already has chosen to do, given the logo shown above which includes the Fleur De Lis just as the New Orleans Saints have done
Gators – already in use by University Of Florida, this provides a fierce mascot with strong regional ties: Louisiana is the state with the largest population of the American Alligator.
If a fierce or ethno-centric mascot isn’t what the New Orleans NBA franchise is looking for in a mascot, perhaps they could make ties to a different form of entertainment their city is known for by calling themselves The Bead-Throwers.
On its face, the name New Orleans Pelicans is hard to appreciate, and has already been much maligned since its announcement just days ago. Though most would still prefer a different name, I have heard some other arguments for why the name fits, and how some people might not be giving pelicans their due credit for being fierce birds of prey.
- The Pelican is the state bird of Louisiana
- Not only are pelicans hypercarnivores, meaning they only eat meat, but they aren’t scavengers by nature, and typically only eat what THEY kill
- Having great vision, pelicans can see fish in the water from 60 feet in the air, and when they dive down to grab their prey, they do it with style by spiraling their descent
- An aspect of pelicans which a true guy can appreciate, they’re known to eat as much as 4 pounds of fish in a day, which often constitutes more than half its own bodyweight
- Teamwork? Pelicans often work in groups, taking turns diving into the water to round-up a school of fish, making it easier to ensure members of the group each are successful hunting
On this topic, what say you? Do you like the name New Orleans Pelicans? Is it woefully bad? Do you even care what the New Orleans NBA franchise names itself?
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