I can’t particularly call myself ready for any football. But I was sort of intrigued by the fact that the Packers beat the Steelers in the last Super Bowl, and the former will open against the Saints tonight. In particular, the fact that all three of these are descriptions of groups of people, rather than just animals. Is this tendency something special to the NFL? I thought maybe, but not exactly. Baseball’s defending champions are the Giants, after all.
To shed some further light on the subject, more pie charts!
It’s actually the NFL with the highest proportion of animal nicknames, even if they don’t win. Groups of people nicknames can be subdivided into the “actually relevant to city/predecessor’s history” (the Packers), “less relevant” (the Sacramento Kings), and “getting metaphysical” (the New Jersey Devils. You kind of have to throw the Orlando Magic in here with the Washington Wizards. Or at least I did.)
As you probably guessed, many are judgment calls–I’m throwing the vague Nashville Predators a bone by sticking them in the “animal” category. And I’m paying more attention to the actual name than the etymology (Cincinnati Reds are other while Boston Red Sox are inanimate plural, even though I probably could have done things differently and lumped them together into the “footwear” category).
The inanimate plurals get bigger as we move through the leagues. Maybe the good animals had been taken already?
The MLS and the WNBA, as mentioned in Part 1, are big on singulars.