In theory, leaving a decision as big as naming a sports team to the fans is a fun idea. It gives folks at a grassroots level an opportunity to mold said team in their vision.
But what happens when that plan fails, and there is almost unanimous backlash for the options you’ve presented?
The group behind the new semi-pro soccer club in Knoxville is learning just how hard letting the fans decide on a team name can be.
It doesn’t help their case, though, that the four options they’ve presented have been…not great!
700 miles of trail. 30 distinct neighborhoods. Enough Knoxville to keep an explorer busy for a lifetime. And maybe a couple home stadiums in our future…
Name 1 of 4: Knoxville Rovers
— Knox Pro Soccer (@KnoxProSoccer) May 18, 2021
First up was the “Knoxville Rovers,” which is either named for a dog or somebody that walks around aimlessly. They tried to connect the name to all of the hiking and walking trails around Knoxville. But are we going to pretend that Knoxville is known nationally for its extensive network of hiking trails? Do “Rovers” even have home games? Do they know that there’s already a Rovers in the league they’re about to join?
In 2022, we'll be starting a long journey upward. We'll always strive for the a version of our Club that lies just beyond our reach. Our focus isn’t the peak – it’s the Ascent.
Name 2 of 4: Knoxville Ascent
— Knox Pro Soccer (@KnoxProSoccer) May 19, 2021
Next was “Knoxville Ascent,” which…never should have made it past the thinking out loud stage. And their pitch for it was basically “Trust the process.” Who decided that the walking uphill part of a hike was worthy of a team name? No one likes walking up the mountain; they want the view at the top. The summit, if you will, which…more on that later. This one may have been the worst option of the four.
Side note; wasn’t there a circle of Hell in Dante’s Inferno where some dude had to push a rock up a hill for eternity? That’s what the nickname “Ascent” makes me think of. High school English class.
Tested, tried, and true. There's enough history, depth, and character in Knoxville to keep us busy for decades. Oh, and we play soccer. Football happens in Neyland Stadium.
Name 3 of 4: Knoxville SC
— Knox Pro Soccer (@KnoxProSoccer) May 20, 2021
Third was “Knoxville, SC.” I’m not exaggerating when I say I just yawned typing that name. It’s safe, boring, and uncreative. About 70% of American soccer teams go the City Name FC/SC/United route, and it’s incredibly dull. This one is the safest route of the four, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Urban. Wild. Emergent. Rooted. Scruffy. Refined. North, South, East, and West Knoxville. So many different backgrounds, cultures, and ideals coming together to form One Knoxville.
Name 4 of 4: One Knoxville
— Knox Pro Soccer (@KnoxProSoccer) May 21, 2021
Fourth was “One Knoxville.” Personally, I didn’t mind this name. It’s a little more progressive than the others and is fairly unique. Of course, it also follows the above pattern of City Name Coupled With Generic Modifier, which is dull. Literally, any city in the world could name their team One _____.
All that is to say, all four options were panned by the majority of fans. For every one positive reply to their tweets, there were about eight negative ones. Of course, social media is sometimes not a great representation of reality. But the reality of the above names is they’re just not very good.
Which puts the folks over at “Knox Pro Soccer” (a misnomer, at this point) in their first difficult spot, publicly. Will they stubbornly stick to their guns and pick one of the four options above? Or will they take the advice of their future fans and go back to the drawing board. Please make no mistake; the folks and fans of Fanrun have made their voices heard on the subject.
I, for one, proposed Thunder Road FC. An ode to the highway north of town known for moonshine runners back in the day.
Sawyer Trey Smith (@sawyerteesmith) had this to say about the new team’s name:
Reasons why the 4 options are bad: Knoxville isn’t the hottest market for “futbol”. Given that, the incoming professional soccer team needs to have a name that jumps out at you. Knoxville SC, FC, whatever isn’t going to cut it. Knoxvillians want and need a cool name. Some suggestions I have are: River Rats, Shiners, Mountain Men
Logan Quinton (@LDQsports) said:
I have seen a lot of names out there on Twitter that are solid. Which makes it even more baffling that the people behind naming the club can’t get it right…I think Houston Kress mentioned ‘Coppers’ I really like that one. Also, Copperheads would be cool…Just to be different, my idea is Knoxville Summit. It pays homage to a Tennessee legend who made an impact on sports, especially womens (sports)…It also gives reference to the Smoky Mountains. Plus, I just think it sounds like a US soccer name.
Even the Godfather of Fanrun was throwing his hat in the ring on the subject.
This gives the team no identity. How do I even invite someone to the game? I'd have to explain that the Knoxville team is a minor league team yada yada. Not a good idea. Rovers and Ascent are weak too. Hoping day 4 is stronger.
— Nate Hodges (@NateHodges) May 20, 2021
Regardless of what name they decide to go with, it will be good to have high level men’s soccer back in Knoxville (hat tip to the Lady Vols soccer team while we’re here).
Do you have ideas for a team name? Want to give some feedback on ones that have already been presented? Hit up @KnoxProSoccer on Twitter, or go to their website where they are taking feedback on their name ideas.