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How Important Are Team Names?

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How is it that athletic teams get their names? What goes on in the process of selecting those names by which the team becomes known? Sometimes those names do not seem to make a lot of sense. For instance, how is it that the long standing Los Angeles basketball team is called the Lakers? Is there even a lake in the nearby vicinity to identify that name with? Come to find out, that name traveled from Minnesota where the team originally started out and of course Minnesota is known as the land of 1,000 lakes. Okay, so that worked when the team was in Minnesota but now that it has been for so many years located in sunny California perhaps that name doesn’t fit quite so well.
Then there is the Utah Jazz. The young men who wear the purple basketball uniforms represent the state of Utah which is definitely not known for jazz. However, when that team was originally located in New Orleans that name made a lot more sense. Who doesn’t associate jazz music with Orleans after all. Even so, the team has been in Utah for decades now and the name seems a bit out of place.
People are funny though and they get used to the names their teams are called and they are not all that anxious for those names to change – even if they do not seem to make a lot of sense.
Lately there has been a lot of hubbub about teams named after Indian tribes and the question arises of whether or not that is appropriate or if it is insensitive. There seems to be a large group on either side of that question. Some think that those team should change their names as it is disrespectful in their opinion to use that moniker. Others are just as passionate about the fact that the teams have carried those names for many, many years and are justified in using them with no malice intended.
The University of Utah has gone by the name of Utes for generations and wants to continue doing so even amid a certain degree of controversy. The name comes from the Indian tribe located on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation and seems to make a lot more sense than jazz representing Utah or Lakers representing Los Angeles.
A contract between the school and the tribe was recently signed allowing the University the use of that name for the next five years at which time it will be negotiated again. That is good news for the many thousands of fans who for decades have lovingly and passionately called out “Go Utes” as they have faithfully cheered on their various school teams. It seems to be a good fit.