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Posted 2005 February 18
The Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees must have the vaguest geographic moniker in the history of sports.
After all, the formula "_______ Valley" is a straightforward one. It means the valley surrounding the "_______" River. When you're dealing with a fairly short river, this isn't a problem -- for example, you pretty much knew the "Roanoke Valley Rebels" played in the area of Roanoke, Virginia, because the river isn't that long and it's the only city of any consequence along the river.
Not so for the Rio Grande Valley. The Rio Grande is nearly two thousand miles long, and has numerous cities along its length, including several that have hockey teams in the same league as the Killer Bees. It travels through three very large states. The fact of the matter is that you could be hundreds of miles from the arena where the Killer Bees play and still be in the Rio Grande Valley. This geographic identifier is even less specific than the Texas Wildcatters. You may as well just call the team the United States Killer Bees.
And then there's the second half of the name.
I'm not saying the name isn't appropriate. The first reported instance of killer bees being found in the United States was in Hidalgo, so it's certainly a reasonable name. It's just that the name doesn't work.
Why? Here, we get to have a discussion about perception versus reality. It's a basic fact that killer bees are scarier than regular bees. After all, they're killer bees. They can kill you, right? They wouldn't be called "killer bees" if they couldn't, right? Regular bees just make your arm hurt for a few minutes. So killer bees are definitely scarier.
But in spite of this fact, the name "Killer Bees" doesn't work as well as just "Bees". We all have an instinctive fear of bees. Like the rarely-used name "Spiders", "Bees" gets the job done. But to name a team the "Killer Bees" seems strangely over the top. It reminds you of things like the movie "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" and song "Killer Queen". In other words, it conjures images of camp. That's not quite the mental image a hockey team needs to be aiming for, even if it is obviously what the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim had in mind.
Also, the name's just too damn long: "Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees". Do we really need five words here? Eight or Nine syllables? (I keep hearing differing opinions as to whether the "e" in "Grande" is pronounced.) I could say the name of the local baseball team (the Durham Bulls) three times in that number of syllables…four if you slur it like some locals do. I'm sure they could have come up with something shorter than that.
The logo itself isn't so bad, if you can turn a blind eye to the fact that it's an obvious rip-off of the Georgia Tech logo. Admittedly, there are only so many ways to draw a bee, but there is more than one.
By the way, for extra laughs, look close at the bee's arms. They're muscular, like a human who's been working out. Congratulations, Rio Grande Valley: you're the first team to get dinged for the anthropomorphization penalty because of biceps. To be fair, you were probably going to get it anyway (if not for the hands holding the stick, then for the smile), but the biceps were the first form of anthropomorphization I noticed. Good job, guys!
Final Score: 53 points.
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