Name That Team

Decades ago, the Bates intramural schedule looked like this:

John Bertram vs. Roger Bill.

East Parker vs. Smith North.

It reflected an irony-free era, but before you could say “Sex Pistols,” the Bates intramural teams, like rock bands, started conjuring names from, well, left field.

Hip, obscure in-joke names also serve a purpose, says Stephanie Kelley-Romano, assistant professor of rhetoric.

“When members of a group try to create identification with one another, they will often tell a story or a joke, and that joke will “chain out’ among its members,” Kelley-Romano says. It’s called a “fantasy theme.”

“Around this “fantasy,’ the group becomes cohesive,” she adds. “If it’s an inside joke, the members can just revisit the joke any time. You can get the humor with just a word or two.” (Remember that the next time your golf partner says “Noonan!” as you’re putting.)

“Obscure names can foster a group’s sense of superiority,” Kelley-Romano adds. “Essentially, since they understand the reference, they’re somehow better.”

Here’s a glossary of recent IM names, chock-full of in-jokes and stories:

The Kwik-E-Mart Gougers (hockey) An obscure reference to The Simpsons: the name of Lisa’s hockey team.”Just about everyone we’ve talked to has no idea what the joke is, but we think it’s funny,” says Andrew Stone ’04 of Needham, Mass.

The Boomsticks (volleyball) From a “really strange movie that some of us from Clason House saw,” says Kimberly Bouris ’05 of Waltham, Mass. “The main character gets dragged back into medieval times. People fight him with their swords; he fires his gun, everyone falls silent, and he says, “This here’s my boomstick.’ We all died laughing.”

Mountain Lightning (indoor soccer) Named for Wal-Mart’s Mountain Dew knock-off, which, “sadly,” tastes nothing like Dew, says Ian Livengood ’05 of Washington, D.C. “But it’s great because it costs like $1.50 for a 12-pack.”

Skog Rats (outdoor soccer) Brett Covell ’04 of Skaneateles,N.Y., offers two meanings: “The Androscoggin is nearby, and anything that’s aquatic and ventures from its waters would be pretty intimidating. Second, a researcher named Skog infused electrodes into rat brains to do his research.”

Diamonds in the Ruff (basketball) — “From the movie Saving Silverman,” says Greg Besegai ’05 of Plymouth, Mass. “They name their rock band Diamonds in the Ruff because they love Neil Diamond. Neil Diamond is the man.”

Top Ramen (hockey) “Our preferred brand of instant soup,”says Ian Buttermore ’04 of Bloomfield Hills, N.J. “We voted on names like “Al Bundy’s Psycho Lazer Zombies.’ Too cumbersome.”