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Posted 2008 February 25
I'm just a wee bit irked at this team.
When I first posted the review for this team, I commented on how impressed I was that despite having moved from Memphis proper to a suburb in Mississippi, the team was still calling itself the Memphis RiverKings. I even gave them bonus points for that.
So what do they do? They change their name to the Mississippi RiverKings. I suppose I can see the logic of it in a way: the city of Memphis is, after all, defined by the Mississippi River. And if they team had changed the name to the Mississippi River Kings instead of the Mississippi RiverKings, I just might have been willing to parse it as (Mississippi River) (Kings) instead of (Mississippi) (River Kings) and let it go. They didn't. The way they did it, it's hard to deny that they're naming themselves after the state, not the river.
Here's the thing: As best as I can tell, most people in the Mississippi suburbs of Memphis are ashamed to admit that they're in Mississippi. Several years ago I took a business trip to Memphis, and one evening after work our host and his wife were showing us around the area. In the process we briefly crossed into Mississippi. On the way out we were using one of the run-of-the-mill streets instead of one of the major highways, and I noticed something peculiar about the signs at the state line. There was a sign informing drivers they were now entering the City of Southaven (since Memphis is literally in the southwest corner of Tennessee, the state line is also the border between Memphis and Southaven) and that they were now entering DeSoto County. The conveniently forgot to put up a sign saying drivers were now entering the state of Mississippi. But the signs northbound mentioned Memphis, Shelby County, and Tennessee. All I can figure is that the people of Southaven would rather be in Tennessee than in Mississippi (an understandable sentiment if you ask me), and were hoping no one would notice. I'm sure they'd be perfectly happy if vandals removed the signs welcoming people to Tennessee in the other direction. It makes you wonder if they're as irritated with the team's name change as I am.
But it's not just the name change that irritates me. What's even more irritating about the "Mississippi" RiverKings is that while they changed the name, they essentially kept the same logo, which features a turtle. Anyone who follows hockey knows that when a player curls up into a cowardly position during a fight, it's called "turtling". Putting a turtle in a logo for a hockey team is a very odd choice, especially when the team isn't called the Turtles or something similar. Why did they do that? I once got an e-mail claiming to explain that. The writer said he worked for the company that designed the Memphis RiverKings logo. He said the turtle was in the logo because snapping turtles are known as the "kings of the Mississippi". It's a decent argument. There's just one problem with it, which is that as far as I can tell it's a load of tripe someone came up with to justify putting a turtle in the logo. I'm not saying the people who came up with the logo made it up. But I checked with a friend of mine who lives in Memphis, and she confirmed that the only time she had ever heard that claim made was when the logo was first debuted. I had her ask around, and she said that nobody she talked to — including several Memphis natives — had ever heard that moniker given to snapping turtles. One person she spoke to helpfully offered that whoever came up with that as justification for the turtle should be known as the king of the bullshitters.
I'm not going to go that far. It could have been that a person at the team fed the designers that line because they wanted a turtle in the logo, or it could be someone the designers misremembered, or any number of other possibilities. But the fact that the team gave a press release about the logo which included the claim clearly makes them accomplices in the fiction. So not only am I giving the team the "Irrelevancy" penalty for the turtle, I'm also making it an egregious penalty because the team lied about it. If you want me to take the penalty away, you're going to have to come up with some credible evidence of the claim (and anything coming out of the RiverKings' front office doesn't count). Sorry, but that's just the way it is. And for the record, I first posted that challenge back in 2004 November. It's been over three years, and not a single person has responded. I think that just about sums it up.
But remember that I said they "essentially" kept the same logo? Here's the really bad part: they did, in fact, redesign it. Not only did they replace "Memphis" with "Mississippi" and rework the word "RiverKings", they also gave the turtle teeth. Guess what: snapping turtles don't have teeth.
On the flip side, I am less bothered by the word "Kings" being in Memphis' team name than I am when it shows up in most team names. After all, Memphis is home to Graceland. There are few rock musicians who are iconic enough to be able to serve as an icon for their home city, but Elvis Presley is undoubtedly one of those proud few.
But think about that: A word so overused that there's a penalty just for using it is actually the best thing about this team's name or its logo. Just how bad do the name and logo have to be for that to be the case? As you can see from the logo, pretty damn bad.
Final Score: 90 points.
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