Branding a professional sports team is a bit like naming a child. You'd like to make the name unique, but also avoid potential embarrassment down the road. So, as Salt Lake City embarks on the process of labeling its new Major League Soccer team, here are some good ideas and some bad ones.
The nickname Boom has already been considered and dropped. Good idea. It would be too easy for smart aleck writers like me to substitute the word Bust whenever there was a failure. Besides, how quickly would you tire of hearing the stadium p.a. guy play Canadian rocker Pat Travers' 1979 hit Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights)?
Most of the good animal names are taken. About the only remaining ones are Ocelots, Hedgehogs and Lemurs. No one would know what the mascot is supposed to be. Condors wouldn't be bad, but references to the movie Three Days of the Condor would be inevitable. Hopefully the team will last longer than that.
Alliterative names are usually either too cute, too vague or too much of a stretch. The Syracuse SkyChiefs, Savannah Sand Gnats and Lansing Lugnuts actually exist in the minor leagues of pro sports. The Salt Lake Psycho would probably scare opponents, but also small children.
The Samsons? Positives: biblical, and the cheerleaders could be the Delilahs. Negative: all the players would be required to wear long hair. Too high-maintenance.
As for the Utah Eunuchs, how would they score?
We could name the team for a famous Utah family. After all, the Cleveland Browns were tagged after their esteemed original coach Paul Brown. So, how about the Utah Youngs, the Salt Lake City Smiths or the Orem Osmonds? With all the descendants of those clans in these parts, sellout crowds would be virtually guaranteed.
It would be cool to create a team identity in conjunction with Salt Lake's proud heritage or unique attributes. But, as the Jazz has proved, that's not a necessity.
Singular nicknames are all the rage in other MLS markets. The Chicago Fire. D.C. United. The New England Revolution. Action words, like Thump, Smash or Riot would work, but anti-violence groups might protest.
Our team could be called the Salsa or the Sushi, in honor of the significant Hispanic and Asian cultures in the area. The Tsunami would be powerful but too hard to spell.
There is an idea that incorporates a lot of these themes - alliteration, high energy, distinctiveness - into one concise concept. Ladies and gentlemen, meet your Salt Lake City Samurai soccer team.
Fans of all ages would identify with the traditional Samurai warrior tenets of honor, bravery and trust; sincerity, loyalty and heroism; love, truth and action.
Kids would love the mascot. The only downside is he'd have to fall on his own sword after every loss.
Dave Coombs is the morning host on 1320 K-FAN radio in Salt Lake City.