17 September 2008

What's in a name?

I like how Australian representative sports teams have nicknames. In ultimate this gives you more identity.

At Worlds 2008, I was playing with the Dingos. But someone from, say, France was simply on the French Open team. Having a nickname makes your team more iconic.

Our Aussie teams are Southern Terra, Thunder, Dingos, Firetails, Barramundis, Taipans, Crocs (World Games), Salty Crocs (Beach Worlds) and Wombats (Asia-Oceania Championships).

I thought I would dig out some team names from other sports. I'm sure you can guess most of these sports if you are Aussie. Dear foreign readers - think of it as a cultural quiz.
  • Hockeyroos, Kookaburras
  • Rollers (gold in Beijing!), Gliders (bronze in Beijing!)
  • Boomers, Opals (silver), Emus, Gems, Boomerangs, Pearls
  • Kangaroos, Jillaroos
  • Wallabies, Wallaroos
  • Matildas, Young Matildas, Olyroos, Joeys, Socceroos
  • Steelers (silver in Beijing!)
  • Diamonds

9 comments:

  1. Actually, who wants to update Wikipedia?

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  2. A quick question - do you feel we should mandate these names?

    Historically, the names have been picked by teams, and some have continued on over the years, valuably building that identity (like the Dingos), but others have changed from campaign to campaign.

    This may involve some rationalisation - eg we've had Barramundis, Crocs and Wombats used for the Australian Mixed Team at three different recent tournaments.

    And of course, there'd be a process and such. But I guess I'm asking should we make a decision and make it with a mind that "this is what it will be for all time".

    Generally, the balance in the past has been towards individual players having a say, but I wonder if/when we decide as a nation that we'd prefer some long term consistency/branding etc over that personal liberty.

    Getting the Dingos and other names onto the 'list of Aussie teams' seems worth it?

    JdR

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  3. The names should absolutely be mandated.

    Consider 2 extremes. First, a Division 3 team where the leaders of the team can change their team name from league to league. That's fine. Its their team, they built it, they chose who plays on it, and few other players mind what they are called. All power to the players.

    Now consider the Wallabies. Those players are selected to represent the team by the ARU. Would Stirling Mortlock and a few teammates get to change the team name because they didn't like it? Clearly no. It is a brand. It is a revenue raiser. It is a dream. It has history and tradition. It gives identity. It has meaning for millions of Australians, not just for the 15 blokes wearing that jersey next month. Thousands of youngsters aspire to "be a Wallaby".

    We should be moving towards the Wallaby model not away from it.

    Any name changes should happen only in exceptional circumstances, and only through formal written application to the AFDA Board. At the current rate of progress, the Australian women's team will be on their 4th name in 4 championships before too long. All because a few players in the next cohort, who are given the privilege of playing on that team, don't like it at that moment in time?

    Some people have complained about past names, saying that people could make fun of them. This is true for any team name - its an Australian past time! It can easily be acknowledged with a wry smile, and shrugged off.

    Time for AFDA to put it in writing and protect these identities.

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  4. Thanks Owen - can I take things a step further?

    Another thing I've personally often considered is whether we as a nation should mandate a single shirt and be done with it. ie I'd like to see us have an Australian Ultimate team shirt. No logos for particular teams or events. No variations beyond sizing and male/female. Aim to have the same colour/design year after year (think of the iconic Wallaby jersey before the fools sold out).

    Without getting focused on the most recent adventures, I think this would have considerable benefits for us in terms of organisational effort, cost and manufacture and so forth. And of course, recognisability, branding, etc.

    Leaving storage issues aside, I could see our buying many many shirts, possibly with representative players receiving them for free, with that being offset by our selling them to fans, or players who want more to trade, leagues that want special prizes, etc etc.

    The shirts would be numbered 1-33 - nothing varied beyond that, and the numbers matched to a bell curve of sizing. We save via uniformity. But it would be good for building our traditions etc to track who on our teams is currently wearing what number, and they 'keep' that number until they leave the team, at which time the number is passed to a new team member. There's potential for tradition and ceremony here.

    All that said (and thinking about tradition and ceremony and branding too), I know some players will want a unique item. For that, I'd love us to look through the records and do a 'baggy green' Australian cricket team style thing.

    So maybe when you are selected to play for Australian Ultimate, before your first game, you get a cap (or other item), with a unique number on it, matching the historical order as a representative.

    (You'll see I've been pretty direct-line in developing this idea, so pick the bits you like and feel free to ignore the rest).

    Cheers,

    JdR

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  5. Oh, and just to get the ball rolling (and likely generate some further comments). Here's a minimalist suggestion:

    Doesn't matter if its WUGC, World Games, Beach Ultimate, Asia-Pacifics, etc etc.
    - any Australian Open team is the Dingos.
    - any Australian Women's team is the Firetails.
    - any Australian Mixed team is the Barramundis.

    To foster the three brands above, any junior/masters team gets a Young/Old prefix (ie Old Dingos, Young Firetails).

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  6. Oh, and I meant to also add (particularly for your international readers Owen).

    Yes, I laugh when I see people talking about being on 'Team USA', or 'Team Canada' or (funniest yet) ;Team GB'. They sound like suits.

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  7. You've got some good ideas there, JdR.

    I like having a common strip across teams, but I also like the iconic nature of having a Dingo on the Dingo shirt.

    There are also different values put on making certain Open teams. More work is required to make the Open team for Worlds than for Beach Worlds. It is nice to recognise the prestige of making the Worlds team by giving it its own identity.

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  8. Interesting discussion.

    I agree that team names should stay consistent over time, rather than chopping and changing.
    I also believe teams have unique identities at different tourneys, regardless of whether it's theoretically the same division... e.g. like Owen is saying, the Aussie Open team at WUC is different to the Aussie Open team at Beach Worlds; the Mundis (WUC) are different to an Aussie Mixed team at Beach Worlds, are different to the Aussie World Games team, are different to our Asian Champs team...
    As such, I believe names should remain for the same division in the same tournament, but not in different tournaments.

    I completely disagree with the single Australian Ultimate shirt though. The teams are unique, they have their own unique character. Every tournament is also different - it brings a different location, mindset, group of players... I definitely believe that each uniform should have the same base design, but also that they should be free to have a unique logo and tournament information.
    This is similar to the above - teams have unique identities. A Junior Open jersey from 2004 should not appear to be the same as a Dingos jersey from 2008, or a World Games jersey in 2009.
    Using the Wallabies as an analogy is flawed, as they only have a single division, and making the team for any Test or tournament is essentially of equal value to any other.

    Also, players enjoy a sense of ownership over a given number. While the uniform identifies them as a member of a team, the chance to wear their unique number is held in high regard by many players (for example, I'm half hoping that Kenny S decides to go traveling in 2012 ;-) ). In a way, I think it helps the feeling that the team has adopted you personally, rather than just adding another body to the line-up. As such, I completely disagree with being allocated a number based on a preset sizing system.

    Finally, I think it completely devalues the Juniors/Masters to refer to them as subsets of another team. They are unique teams representing their country, and deserve to be recognised as such. I would have felt less attached to being a "Young Dingo" than to be leading Aussie Thunder. The Juniors have kept their names for the last 3 Worlds (i.e. since they began), and there is a strong identity built around those names - I think it would be an appalling decision to change now (on that note, likewise for Dingos and Barramundis).

    My humble 2c.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Interesting discussion.

    I agree that team names should stay consistent over time, rather than chopping and changing.
    I also believe teams have unique identities at different tourneys, regardless of whether it's theoretically the same division... e.g. like Owen is saying, the Aussie Open team at WUC is different to the Aussie Open team at Beach Worlds; the Mundis (WUC) are different to an Aussie Mixed team at Beach Worlds, are different to the Aussie World Games team, are different to our Asian Champs team...
    As such, I believe names should remain for the same division in the same tournament, but not in different tournaments.

    I completely disagree with the single Australian Ultimate shirt though. The teams are unique, they have their own unique character. Every tournament is also different - it brings a different location, mindset, group of players... I definitely believe that each uniform should have the same base design, but also that they should be free to have a unique logo and tournament information.
    This is similar to the above - teams have unique identities. A Junior Open jersey from 2004 should not appear to be the same as a Dingos jersey from 2008, or a World Games jersey in 2009.
    Using the Wallabies as an analogy is flawed, as they only have a single division, and making the team for any Test or tournament is essentially of equal value to any other.

    Also, players enjoy a sense of ownership over a given number. While the uniform identifies them as a member of a team, the chance to wear their unique number is held in high regard by many players (for example, I'm half hoping that Kenny S decides to go traveling in 2012 ;-) ). In a way, I think it helps the feeling that the team has adopted you personally, rather than just adding another body to the line-up. As such, I completely disagree with being allocated a number based on a preset sizing system.

    Finally, I think it completely devalues the Juniors/Masters to refer to them as subsets of another team. They are unique teams representing their country, and deserve to be recognised as such. I would have felt less attached to being a "Young Dingo" than to be leading Aussie Thunder. The Juniors have kept their names for the last 3 Worlds (i.e. since they began), and there is a strong identity built around those names - I think it would be an appalling decision to change now (on that note, likewise for Dingos and Barramundis).

    My humble 2c.

    ReplyDelete