The south side stands of Lansdowne Park/Frank Clair Stadium (are they still going to call it Frank Clair Stadium?) are quickly rising and we’re coming to the one year countdown to the return of professional football to Ottawa. With the CFL holding a tight grip on “Rough Riders”, and “Renegades” belonging to a legacy no one wants to claim, the ownership group had to set out for a new nickname.
They settled on RedBlacks (Rouge et Noir in french).
Predictably, there’s a lot of negative feedback. A lot. It’s considered silly, embarrassing, fake and ridiculous. However, if the agitated are honest with themselves, they’ll admit that just about any name that might have been chosen would have been roundly panned.
And if we’re really honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that the Ottawa staples in team nicknames, “Rough Riders” and “Senators”, are pretty sad. (Seriously, take away the history associated with the Senators and tell me you’d still want to name your team, essentially, the Mike Duffys.)
But the RedBlacks will grow on us. Naming a team after the team colours (which, themselves, have a storied legacy in Ottawa) isn’t particularly radical. It’s actually rather common (hello Ottawa U., Laval, Stanford, Syracuse, Bo Sox, Chi Sox and Reds). Even if you’re not convinced, this is the CFL. It’s not like this is the home of great names. Let’s review:
Roughriders – The original Rough Rider name is silly enough, cramming the two words together is just added ridiculousness. You can’t slag RedBlacks but give the Roughriders a pass… at least not without cognitive dissonance so extreme it’ll rattle you more than the pile driving at Lansdowne.
Ti-Cats/Tiger-Cats – Have you ever actually called a tiger a “tiger-cat”? Me neither. I know it’s a combination of the names of two clubs that merged, but that doesn’t excuse anything. Plus, if we think it’s a bad to make a new word with RedBlack, how is making “Ti” a word any better?
Blue Bombers – So, what?, they’re sad?
Eskimos – Hey, at least RedBlack isn’t considered a racial epithet.
The rest of the league is barely better. “Argonauts” is kind of neat and, at one time, semi-meaningful, if rather esoteric. “Lions” is pretty typical and bland, but, all around, unobjectionable. “Stampeders” is about the only name that makes sense both as a nickname for a sports team and for the region in which the team is based.
So, sure, RedBlacks isn’t great, but in context, it’s really not that bad.