Sunday, November 29, 2009

New Tulsa Team Down to Three Names

(Alternate title: "Lions and Tigers and Tempo, O My!")

The WNBA has a web page where you can vote for the new name of the Tulsa WNBA team. However, you only get three choices:

* Tulsa Fire
* Tulsa Shock
* Tulsa Tempo

The article from the Tulsa World gives a little bit more insight:

One of the more popular nicknames that didn't make the cut was the Lightning.

"That was one of the names
on the initial list," Cameron said. "We had well over 100 names to start. As we went through the WNBA process some were eliminated and that was one of them. It did have a lot of support. It just didn't pass the WNBA screening."

Cameron said several criteria come into play, including marketability and trademark availability.

"I don't remember exactly why that name didn't work, I just know it was rejected," he said.

With all due respect, I believe that Mr. Cameron is lying through his teeth. If you can read between the lines, you can figure out why.

It's the remark about "marketability and trademark availability". The (W)NBA doesn't want to be sued by come college, pro, or minor-league team on copyright issues - which basically means that the WNBA will never choose a name like "Tigers" or "Bears", because there are about 100 teams with those names and out of 100 people, there has to be at least one idiot looking to bring a lawsuit.

The Lightning was rejected because there's a pro team with that name - the Tampa Bay Lightning of the NHL. "But why couldn't they just draw a logo that looked nothing like Tampa Bay's?" Because I'm sure that Tampa Bay has about fifty Lightning-themed promotions and puns, and Tulsa would have inadvertantly duplicated at least one of those, opening them up to legal action. "Better not to risk it," thinks the WNBA.

Which is why we get the following three names:

1. Shock: The Shock is simply the name of the former Detroit team. However, "Shock" was chosen in conjunction with the NBA's Detroit Pistons, which leaves one wondering what is so shocking about Tulsa.
2. Fire: The Fire is the name of a former WNBA team, the Portland Fire - which folded after three years. If you're going to recycle old names, why not the "Comets" or the "Sting"?
3. Tempo: The Tulsa Tempo has to be a pretty lame name, and sure to bring howls of derisive laughter. A tempo can also be painfully slow, since it's the speed of a musical composition. When I hear the word "Tempo" I think, "Old Ford automobile that they haven't made in 15 years." (At least it will be a connection to Detroit.)


Ethan said...

The Lightning was rejected because there's a pro team with that name - the Tampa Bay Lightning of the NHL.


Los Angeles Kings. NHL. Pro team.

Sacramento Kings. NBA. Pro team.

Same mascot name.

I think the real "issue" was that Lightning would be seen as a play on "Thunder", kind of an FU to OKC. Since the W won't do itself any favors feuding with NBA teams/owners, they're going the "let's all play nice" route, which is irritating.

pt said...

Ah, but you have to remember that the LA Kings have been around since 1967 and the Sacramento Kings have been around with the Kings name since 1972 (and with the Royals before that). A much less litigious time in America. :D

Anonymous said...

Two years ago, the W could have had the Lightning without any threat of a lawsuit. The Tampa Bay Lightning were, at one time, under the same ownership as the former Detroit Shock. Palace Sports and Entertainment sold them in 2008.

Ethan said...

And what will we say about the 1990s, which saw the dawn of the Florida Panthers (NHL) and the Carolina Panthers (NFL)?

pt said...

We will try to ignore that example as much as possible. :D

audsquad said...

I actually really like the name "Tulsa Tempo"...I think I may be the only one though :-)

With that said, I hope they keep the name Shock. That team has too much history to just toss that name away. Change the logo and colors but keep the name...PLEEEEEASE!!!

The "Chicago Fire" is the MLS (soccer) team here in the windy city.