What’s in a Name?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

As one hurricane season begins, another inches to a close.

June 1 marked the official start of hurricane season for the United States. June1 also became the day that the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes clinched their second trip to the Stanley Cup finals in four years.

For those of you who were not aware, North Carolina has a professional hockey team, and a pretty good one at that.

The Hurricanes (the hockey team) are favored by most sports writers to win this year’s championship, which will be played against the Edmonton Oilers.

The Oilers hail from Canada, where people actually pay attention to hockey. Here in Carolina we have a lot less to do with hockey than we do with hurricanes (the storms).

I’ve always wondered how with all the devastation that North Carolinians suffer at the hands of tropical storms, what genius figured &uot;Hurricanes&uot; would be a good name for a professional sports franchise in this state.

As morbid as it sounds, Carolina is not the only team in the NHL named after a natural disaster. Colorado has the Avalanche and Tampa Bay has the Lightning.

Hockey leads the way in sports franchises named after weather conditions. Basketball’s NBA has the Heat and the Suns, who hail from Miami and Phoenix respectively. I’d say those two names are appropriate enough. Atlanta has the Thrashers and I have no idea what that is about.

The University of Miami is also called the Hurricanes, another genius brainstorm.

The NBA’s representatives in Toronto calls its team the Raptors. To date this is the only team I’ve ever heard of named after a dinosaur. I wonder if any biblical scholars ever picketed the Raptors’ arena the way native Americans have done to dozens of American sports teams that have had mascots whose names were culturally insensitive.

Case in point, local institution Chowan University recently changed its mascot name from Braves to Hawks to comply with new NCAA standards on mascots.

Obviously, many people whose ancestry is actually indigenous to this continent took offense to foreigners coming here, stealing all the land and then painting pictures of their forefathers on the sides of helmets.

I can understand that. Yet professional sports still has the names Redskins, Chiefs, Braves and Indians among its heralded mascot monikers.

The name of Cleveland’s baseball team, the Indians, has always struck me as the oddest of all.

What Indians are they talking about; the natives that Christopher Columbus and his band of merry men mistook for Indians or the people who were born in and live in a place that is actually named India?

To be honest, I think it might have been Robin Hood that had the band of merry men, but that’s neither here nor there.

There is a line in the Shakespearean play Romeo and Juliet that says &uot;That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet&uot;, or as sour. Go Canes!