Why are American teams always named in a certain format?

American teams are always named as [city/region team is from] + [team’s actual name]

2 Answers

The answer to why all the U.S. professional teams are named this way (Location Nickname) today is because it is tradition. Baseball teams were named this way, and football, basketball, hockey, and soccer (in the U.S.) all came after baseball.

Baseball teams weren’t always named this way, however. The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players was the first professional baseball league (1871-1875). A few teams in this league had modern sounding names (Boston Red Stockings, Chicago White Stockings), but many teams in this league had official names like Mutual Baseball Club of New York, Athletic Base Ball Club of Philadelphia, Union Base Ball Club Lansingburgh, Lord Baltimore Club, etc. Box scores in the newspaper would shorten these club names to one word, based on either their city or their club name: Boston, Chicago, Mutual, Athletic, Troy, Lord Baltimore, etc. The sportswriters would give the teams their own nicknames, usually based on the colors of their uniforms or the name of their field. For example, the Union Base Ball Club Lansingburgh played at Haymakers’ Grounds in Troy, NY. As a result, their team was often called the Haymakers or the Trojans. Lord Baltimore got the nicknames Canaries and Yellow Stockings, because of the uniforms. Modern sportswriters, in writing about the history of these old teams, have retroactively assigned modern style names to some of these teams: they are now referred to with names New York Mutuals, Philadelphia Athletics, Troy Haymakers, and Baltimore Canaries.

In 1876, six clubs from the National Association broke off and started the current National League, including two teams with old style names: Mutual and Athletic. Those two teams lasted only one season, and all that was left in this baseball league were teams with the modern name format.

There are several advantages of the Location Nickname format. When reading or hearing about the team, you immediately know where the team is located. It allows for there to be more than one team in a single city or more than one team with the same nickname, yet have unique names for each. It also is an attempt to build a fanbase; having your city name (or region name) in your team name is supposed to signify that you are the official team of your city, and everyone who lives there should be a fan.

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