Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Classifying Sports Nicknames

The MLB, NBA and NHL each have 30 clubs and the NFL has 32 for a total of 122 teams in the four major American pro sports leagues. You would think there would be more diversity than there is, but 115 of them can fit neatly into one of 21 categories. Below is my list of these categories and their members. FUN FACT: There are six common names (Panthers, Cardinals, Giants, Jets, Kings, Rangers) leaving us with 116 unique monikers.

Regional Pride (18)
Washington Capitals, Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames, New York Mets, Boston Celtics, Minnesota Twins, San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Lakers, Colorado Rockies, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Islanders, New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Pacers, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Vikings

Birds/Aerial (16)
Baltimore Ravens, Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Hawks, Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia Eagles, Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals, Arizona Cardinals, Pittsburgh Penguins, Anaheim Ducks, New Orleans Pelicans, Charlotte Hornets, Winnipeg Jets, New York Jets, Philadelphia Flyers 

Patriotic (8)
Philadelphia 76ers, New England Patriots, Columbus Blue Jackets, Washington Nationals, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, New York Yankees

Cats (7)
Detroit Lions, Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, Florida Panthers

Western (7)
Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs, Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Rangers, Texas Rangers, Portland Trailblazers

Wild Animals (6)
St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres, Nashville Predators, Chicago Bulls, Milwaukee Bucks

Aquatic/Fish and Boats (6)
Miami Dolphins, Florida Marlins, San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Rays, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Clippers

Mystical/Fantasy (5)
Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards, San Francisco Giants, New York Giants, Tennessee Titans

Colors (5)
Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Reds, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, Detroit Red Wings

Weather (5)
Miami Heat, Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, Oklahoma City Thunder

Native American (5)
Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Indians, Washington Redskins, Chicago Blackhawks, Golden State Warriors

Spiritual (4)
New Orleans Saints, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, New Jersey Devils

Professions (4)
Pittsburgh Steelers, Milwaukee Brewers, Edmonton Oilers, Green Bay Packers

Bears (4)
Chicago Bears, Chicago Cubs, Boston Bruins, Memphis Grizzlies

Galactic (4)
Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets, Houston Astros, Dallas Stars

Regal (3)
Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Kings, Kansas City Royals

Pirates (3)
Pittsburgh Pirates, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders

Musical (2)
Utah Jazz, St. Louis Blues

Equine (2)
Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts

Dogs (2)
Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Coyotes

Reptiles (2)
Toronto Raptors, Arizona Diamondbacks

The five that don't fit neatly into one of my categories are: Oakland Athletics, Brooklyn Nets, Minnesota Wild, San Diego Chargers. I had trouble with some of them (ex: could have put the Padres in the Professions group or the Blues in the Colors set), but did what I thought was best. What are your thoughts?

Originally published August 16, 2011
UPDATED October 16, 2013 after some reclassifying and changed names.


  1. The Browns aren't a color, they are named after Paul Brown. It's as if they are all a part of the Brown family, rather than the color Brown.

    But seriously, you raise a good point about originality.

  2. of ALL teams! you forgot the KNICKS!

  3. Did you sneak Knicks in the middle rather than throwing it at the end of the group so it would look like you didn't forget them?? lol

  4. since when is a cavalier a western thing?