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Idaho Steelheads 4

Notice: All logos on this page are included within the parameters of 17 U.S.C. § 107, which states that the reproduction of a copyrighted work for purposes of criticism and/or comment is not an infringement of copyright. No challenge to the copyrights of these logos is intended by their inclusion here.
Posted 2011 December 11

There is something missing from this logo: a loaf of bread. Now, you may be wondering why I would think there should be a loaf of bread in this logo. It's really quite simple. The miracle was supposed loaves and fishes, not just fishes. And believe me, for the Idaho Steelheads to actually put a fish in their logo is a minor miracle. For years they've been putting anything but a fish in their logo. First there was a goalie mask (drawn to look like it was made of steel...a nice visual pun, but not actually what the team is named after). Then there was a forest, of all things. I guess maybe that made sense in a strange sort of way, because if you're not going to show the animal the team is named for then you should at least show its habitat, and as we all know, fish live in trees.

I actually predicted this would happen eventually. In my review of the Steelheads' previous logo, I said point blank, "One of these days, the Steelheads are going to have a logo with a steelhead on it." I would be spending much of this review crowing about my predictive powers, except that I was being sarcastic. I was 99% certain at that point that there was one thing that would never grace the Steelheads' logo, and that would be a steelhead. But I stand corrected. What I said was, much to my surprise, true.

And lo and behold, it's actually a good logo. I won't say the fish looks particularly menacing, because it doesn't. But that fact is actually to the designer's credit. Any attempt to make a trout look menacing is doomed to fail, and probably doomed to backfire by looking ridiculous. Therefore, the designer wisely decided not to waste his time with that. He also didn't waste his time trying to make the steelhead look kid-friendly, which is the what logo designers generally do when they aren't trying to make animals look menacing. He could have easily succeeded at making a fish look kid-friendly, but then the Steelheads would have been just one of dozens of teams with silly, kid-friendly animals in the logo (there's a reason I coined the "JACKAL" acronym). Instad, the designer went with the KISS principle. The logo features a fish. What kind of fish? A fish that looks like a fish, that's what kind.

Speaking of KISS, you may be amused to know that the scientific name for the Steelheads, it turns out, is Oncorhynchus mykiss. No, seriously: the species name is "mykiss". I first read that on Wikipedia, and my first thought was that this had to be another one of those inaccuracies that Wikipedia is infamous for. I didn't even realize Latin had the letter "Y", so the name shouldn't have even been possible from my perspective. But it turns out this is accurate. (Latin did have the letter "Y", but it was only used for words borrowed from Greek. More on this in a bit.)

So what does Oncorhynchus mykiss mean, anyway? Thanks to an online dictionary, I was able to establish that "onco-" means "mass" (as in "oncology", the study of tumors), and "rhynchus" means "an animal having a snout". So apparently the genus name means, roughly speaking, "nose cancer". I know taxonomists sometimes have an odd sense of humor, but I totally don't get this one.

Finding what "mykiss" means was a bit trickier. Google "mykiss" and the only pages that come up are either pages that refer directly to the steelhead, or pages that have the text "my kiss". Latin-English dictionaries are no help. But then it occurred to me that maybe I shouldn't be looking to Latin. Remember what I said about "Y" being used for words borrowed from Greek. I checked a Greek-English dictionary and found the word mýkēs, which means "mushroom". So the scientific name of the fish is apparently "nose cancer mushroom". I don't know precisely which kind of mushroom mýkēs refers to, but I'm going to guess is the kind where, if you eat it, you get so whacked out that you come up with names like "nose cancer mushroom".

But so what if the scientific name of the creature is something so strange that it makes the names of Frank Zappa's children look normal by comparison? The team isn't called the Idaho Oncorhynchus mykiss. It's called the Idaho Steelheads. That may be a bit unusual, but it's unusual in that "local color" way that works with sports teams. It is, in short, a good name. And finally, after all these years, it has a good logo to go with it. Let's hear it for minor miracles.

Final Score: 4 points.
Penalties: Region (egregious), 5 pts; Name-Logo, 2 pts.
Bonuses: Local, -3 pts.

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