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HindustanTimes Sat,02 Aug 2014

Other Sport

IBL franchise names leave a lot to be desired, much like most such leagues
Rohit Bhaskar , Hindustan Times
New Delhi, August 25, 2013
First Published: 00:55 IST(25/8/2013)
Last Updated: 02:40 IST(25/8/2013)

In its brief four-year history the Premier Hockey League couldn't accomplish what it set out to do and its emergence coincided with Indian hockey's darkest hour, one that culminated with failure to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The defunct league did score brownie points on one front — the clever name selections of the franchises. Has there been a more apt franchise name in India's sporting leagues than the Orissa Steelers?

Sure, they got it wrong on occasions — with Sher-e-Jalandhar they bit off more than they could chew; maybe they interpreted the local flavor bit a tad too literally — but at least there was thought put in to build a connect with the city, its heritage and the fans.

The same can't be said of many of the other leagues that keep appearing, disappearing and reappearing.

A history of bad names
The rebel Indian Cricket League had a team known as the Mumbai Champs. Ironically, the Champs never became champions, finishing near the bottom of the table. The Indian Premier League has fared no better.

There's the Kings, the Super Kings, and the Royals. India isn't even a monarchy! Of course, in high stakes cricket the sponsors' interests are just as vital. The Deccan Chargers were so named to have initials similar to parent company, Deccan Chronicle.

The Royal Challangers Bangalore and Hyderabad Sunrisers are names dictated by the owners' business interests.

Off the beat
Which, now, brings us to the ongoing Indian Badminton League. The one that takes the cake (hopefully flung at its face from a close distance at high velocity) is the Banga Beats.

It gives the allusion of an almost unholy  union between Bengal and those literary vagabonds of Post-World War II America, the Beatniks. You expect players with names like Jack Kerouacerjee, William S Burroughsapdhya or Allen Ginsbergacharya. But, you'd be wrong!

Banga is actually short for Bengaluru. Beats? Your guess is as good as ours.

Then there's the Pune Pistons. One wonders how that name fits in the mechanism of badminton.

The perfect fit
Not that Pistons is a bad name for a franchise… it just needs the right setting. The original Pistons, the ones that play basketball, Isiah Thomas and the Bad Boys, have a franchise name most befitting the city they are the pride and joy of.

When the club was first formed in 1941 it was based in Fort Wayne and was so named by owner and automobile-piston magnate Fred Zollner to give mileage to his piston business. Soon, however, small-town Fort Wayne could no longer satisfy the requirements of the team in a burgeoning league.

And Zollner moved the franchise to Detroit, also known as Motor City, with factories of all major US automobile manufacturers situated there. It was the sort of match even Henry Ford would approve of. The Pistons and Motown. A perfect fit.

The warrior way
Some franchise names are more common than the others. If there's one clichéd name that's been adopted by a franchise in almost every such quick-money league it's the Warriors. The Lucknow franchise has also gone down the same road.

The Awadhe Warriors while you're on the highway say hello to the IPL's Pune Warriors, the ICL's Dhaka Warriors, the HIL's Punjab Warriors, the IVL's Maratha Warriors (based in Mumbai) and the PHL's Maratha Warriors (based in Pune).

With RIL-IMG and the All India Football Federation planning to launch its own IPL-model league, there could be more Warriors, Lions and Kings in the fray. Let's just hope for the sake of all involved the owners spend as much time thinking of appropriate franchise names as they do on auction lists and other pressing matters.

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