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Ben's Babbles: Name games

November 26, 2011

There are many reasons I am thankful for graduating from a small college. Small class sizes, great education, wonderful experience.

But the ambiguous mascot always makes things difficult.

I was driving back to Hood River Sunday night, and took the opportunity to tune in to the University of Portland-Washington State basketball game on satellite radio.

I'm also thankful for my satellite radio, for otherwise I would have pretty much nothing to listen to from Multnomah Falls to Hood River.

But that is neither here nor there. Late in the game the Washington State announcer wondered why the Chiles Center, the home for basketball game at the University of Portland, did not have a cool nickname like "the runway, or "the landing strip because it is the home of the Portland Pilots."

Leaving aside the fact that neither of those nicknames are particularly good, they simply wouldn't fit.

See, the Pilots of my alma mater are not airplane pilots, but riverboat pilots.

To his credit, the announcer later corrected himself after receiving a text message advising him of his mistake.

I would hope that an announcer may notice the nautical theme and the building and not think of jet pilots, but that's alright; some of these team names can get confusing if you think about it.

We do not all have the fortune (or misfortune) to come from schools with mascots as easy to define as a Cougar, or Duck or Beaver or Husky.

For example, what exactly is a Demon Deacon? Answer me that Wake Forest.

Or a Blue Devil? A Tar Heel?

Enter the world of pro sports and things get even more confusing. Is there even such a thing as a Blue Jacket?

Or my favorite of all time, belonging to the old WUSA women's professional soccer league: the Cyber Rays.

I may occasionally have to correct the ill-informed of my alma mater's nickname, but I will always be thankful that I don't have to take a half-hour explaining what sort of pilot the Pilots are.

I can't say the same about the Cyber Rays.

Which is probably one big reason they don't exist anymore.

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