Something that every sports fan knows about is their team's names. But did you ever stop to think about what the teams are named after? I did. For this survey, I am using former names of teams still in existence only if the name changed. For example, the Hawks are counted only once even though they were in four different cities over the years, they were always the Hawks. However, the Kings Franchise has been in 4 cities and used two names, Kings and Royals, the most recent of each is counted.
The NBA, which is what I know best, has 30 current teams and several former teams/names, so I will start with them:
Animals: Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orelans Pelicans, Toronto Raptors, Chicago Stags, Charlotte Bobcats,
Peoples: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, Sheboygan Redskins, Buffalo Braves, Indianapolis Olympians, Cincinnati Royals,
Vehicles: Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Providence Steamrollers, Indianapolis Jets, Washington Bullets, Seattle SuperSonics, St. Louis Bombers.
Pants: New York Knicks
Sporting Equipment: Brooklyn Nets,
Weather: Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Phoenix Suns, Chicago Zephyrs,
Abstract (Everything Else): Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trailblazers, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards, Chicago Packers, Syracuse Nationals,
So the totals come up to:
Sporting Equipment 1
Now, to the NHL, with 30 teams...until October.
Animals: Anaheim Ducks/Mighty Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, Atlanta Thrashers, California Golden Seals, Detroit Cougars, Detroit Falcons, Hamilton Tigers, Hartford Whalers, St. Louis Eagles, Quebec Bulldogs,
Peoples: Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Brooklyn Americans, Cleveland Barons, Pittsburgh Pirates,
Vehicles: Winnipeg Jets,
Weather: Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lignting, Colorado Avalanche
Abstract: Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Scouts, Montreal Maroons, Montreal Wanderers, Quebec Nordiques, Toronto Arenas, Toronto St. Patricks,
NHL's totals being:
Now, on the MLB, which also has 30 active teams.
Animals: Arizona Diamondbacks, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, Miami Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Bees, Brooklyn Robins, Cleveland Spiders,
Peoples: Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers, Boston Americans, Boston Beaneaters, Boston Pilgrims, Brooklyn Grooms, Louisville Colonels, Seattle Pilots, Washington Senators
Abstract: Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, Los Angels Angels, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, Oakland Athletics, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Washington Nationals, Boston Rustlers, Brooklyn Superbas, Cleveland Blues, Cleveland Naps, Houston Colt .45's, Indianpolis Hoosiers, Montreal Expos,New York Highlanders, St. Louis Browns,
Only three categories here.
Finally, we move to the NFL, the league I know the least about, but has the most active teams, 32.
Animals: Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, Canton Bulldogs,
Peoples: Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins, Boston Yanks, Brooklyn Dodgers,
Abstract: Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans, Houston Oilers, Pottsville Maroons,
Vehicles: New York Jets
I took a look at the MLS soccer teams but I can't quite figure them out so I didn't include them. NASCAR teams are a little different in that they are usually named after the person who started them, although animal themed teams do exist there, too- Red Horse Racing just closed up on this past month, in fact. But I stuck with the four leagues profiled above.
Here's a screencap of the excel chart I made up so I didn't have to do any actual math
Surprisingly, only one team is named after sports equipment...my favorite team, the Nets. I didn't see that coming!
What I did suspect, though, is that the New York Knicks ARE the only team named after pants! I've always wondered about that, and now I know.
Animals didn't have as much a lead as I thought they did- although some of the Peoples listing may be a little bit of a stretch. I'm not 100% sure the origins of the team names in baseball and football, so I may have classed some of them wrong. I showed the work so if you see an error feel free to correct me in the comments.
The MLB really needs a team named the Jets! The other three leagues have, or had, one. (The NBA's Jets were a very short lived team in the early day).
At some point perhaps I will expand out this survey to include minor leagues, college teams, former leagues. I nearly included the ABA in this survey but I wanted to keep it to the top league in the sports surveyed, and the ABA had so much change and renaming it would have skewed the numbers. If I do expand it out the ABA is where I will begin though.