Sporting Geography: Soccer’s arrival in Atlanta stirs old conflicts

Major League Soccer is expanding, and, thanks in no small part to the city’s planned new stadium, Atlanta will be the home of a new MLS franchise circa 2017.

Soccer fans are an enlightened bunch, nowhere moreso than in Ohio, apparently, where Columbus-based Massive City FFC, a soccer fan entity of some variety, reacted to the expansion news by reminding Atlanta residents that Gen. William T. Sherman, an Ohioan, burned their city to the ground 150 years ago. (Ohio has a lot going for it, you may recall.)

A work friend who has been on top of this soccer news tells me the mascot for Atlanta’s new MLS team is expected to be the Locomotive, given the city’s railroad history. Locomotive isn’t bad, but the Sherman comment made me think of another potential mascot, the Phoenix, which is central to the city’s seal and flag (pictured above) for even more obvious historical reasons. I think it would make a great mascot for any team in this town.

As a name, though, the Atlanta Phoenix carries the slight possibility for confusion, with Phoenix also being the name of another major American city. I’m sure a lot of funny internet people would have a lot of really hilarious and original comments to offer about that name. Rather than steal their thunder by listing all of the joke they could tell, I thought it would be more interesting to come up with potential sports team names in which the mascot is the name of another American city. Here’s what I have so far:

  • the Atlanta Phoenix
  • the Colorado Boulder

Here are a couple stretches:

  • the Cleveland Pitts[burgh] (almost perfect)
  • the Boston Bangors (spelling issue)
  • the Boise Grand Rapids (possible obscurity issue)

This is a fun game. Maybe even more fun than soccer or Ohio. Add your ideas in the comments below. (If you want real soccer talk from Brendan and Marcus, tune in to our latest podcast.)

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Brainstorm: The Washington Football Team’s new mascot

It finally is time for ALDLAND to weigh in on the NFL controversy that has reemerged in force this season: What To Do Or Not Do About The Washington Redskins From A Mascot Perspective.

If you haven’t been following this story this year, don’t worry: no one has said anything insightful about, and no one has changed positions on whether the Redskins should change their name. Washington owner Dan Snyder is not going to change his mind, and he isn’t going to change the name unless NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell forces him to do so, and Goodell has been maybe waffling on the issue.

I don’t have anything to add to the debate, but now feels like a good time to move past the preliminary phase of the conversation and start proposing some alternative mascots. And by “now,” I mean the day after the team’s current running backtight end, Fred Davis, said Snyder should rename the team the Fredskins. Not bad. Inspired, this came to me in a flash this morning:

washingtonmonumentI think the Washington Monuments really would be a great new name for the team. It’s location-specific, addresses Snyer’s concern for honoring history, and is only indirectly linked to Anglo-American racial hegemony.

If you’re still thinking about the Fredskins, here‘s an artist’s rendering of a possible logo along that line. If you have another idea, post it in the comments below.

The final chapter of the Ole Miss mascot search

The sports media’s football coverage in August has focused almost exclusively on the NFL to the exclusion of the fast-approaching college season. This is a small attempt to balance that coverage by taking a concluding look at a story that started to gain steam during the 2010 college football season.

On Saturday, September 3rd, the Ole Miss football team will take the field in Oxford with something they haven’t had since 2003: a mascot. The school’s teams will continue to be known as the Rebels, but after officially retiring Colonel Reb in ’03, the Rebel Black Bear now will represent Ole Miss squads on the field.

While Mississippi’s black bear population recently has been on the rise, particularly in the Delta region, the selection of the Rebel Black Bear was something of a second-best option, at least for a vocal subset of Ole Miss students and others watching off campus. This pre-selection video highlights the one-time top contender:

As the video suggested, copyright law of some variety formally took Admiral Ackbar out of the running, he surely would have made one of the most interesting and creative mascots in college football. Geekery aside, it also would have been a great marketing opportunity for George Lucas & co.

By dumping Col. Reb, Ole Miss distanced themselves from some of the school’s decidedly Confederate trappings, a motive that also drove revisions related to their fight song, “From Dixie With Love.” Students traditionally had concluded the song by chanting “the South will rise again.” Instead, “the Ole Miss student government passed a resolution suggesting the chant be replaced by the phrase, ‘To hell with LSU.'”