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Encyclopedia > Athletic nickname

The athletic nickname, or equivalently athletic moniker, of a university or college within the United States of America is the name officially adopted by that institution for at least the members of its athletic teams. Typically as a matter of engendering school spirit, the institution either officially or unofficially uses this moniker of the institution's athletic teams also as a nickname to refer to people associated with the institution, especially its current students, but also often its alumni, its faculty, and its administration as well. This practice at the university and college tertiary higher-education level has proven so popular that it extended to the high school secondary-education level in the USA and in recent years even to the primary-education level as well. A university is an institution of higher education and of research, which grants academic degrees at all levels (bachelor, master, and doctor) in a variety of subjects. ... The term college (Latin collegium) is most often used today to denote an educational institution. ... Athletics, also known as track and field or track and field athletics, is a collection of sport events. ... A team comprises any group of people or animals linked in a common purpose. ... A moniker (or monicker) is a pseudonym, or cognomen, which one gives to oneself. ... A nickname is a short, clever, cute, derogatory, or otherwise substitute name for a person or things real name (for example, Tom is short for Thomas). ... Alternate uses: Student (disambiguation) Etymologically derived through Middle English from the Latin second-type conjugation verb stŭdērĕ, which means to study, a student is one who studies. ... An alumn (with a silent n), alum, alumnus, or alumna is a former student of a college, university, or school. ... Look up Faculty on Wiktionary, the free dictionary Faculty has several different meanings and can refer to: University faculty are the instructors and/or researchers of high standing at universities, as opposed to the students or support staff. ...



In the USA, multiple recurring themes have appeared over time for choosing a school's athletic nickname. In almost all cases, the institution chooses an athletic nickname with an overtly positive goal in mind, where that goal reflects the character of the institution—either a previously established characteristic or a characteristic hoped for as a goal henceforth.

Abstract concept

Often by choosing an abstract concept as its athletic moniker, the institution wants to inspire its student-athletes on and off the field to achieve success.


Often by choosing an animal, the school wants to emphasize the instillation of fear of losing athletic competititons to the institutions teams, such as through an especially fierce or especially stealthy animal. When the school chooses an animal as its athletic nickname, usually in the plural or as a collective noun for a group of that animal, then typically the school has that animal as its mascot, either specifically named with a proper noun or generically referred to without a proper noun. Phyla Porifera (sponges) Ctenophora (comb jellies) Cnidaria (coral, jellyfish, anemones) Placozoa (trichoplax) Subregnum Bilateria (bilateral symmetry) Acoelomorpha (basal) Orthonectida (parasitic to flatworms, echinoderms, etc. ... Fear is an unpleasant feeling of perceived risk or danger, whether it be real or imagined. ... Mascots at the Mascot Olympics in Orlando, FL. A mascot is something, typically an animal or human character used to represent a group with a common public identity, such as a school, professional sports team (the name often corresponds with the mascot), society or corporation. ...


Often by choosing a collection that represents a summary of the institution's students or of its history. Such a collection may refer to an ethnicity; a profession; an occupation; religious designation, such as saints; or other groupings of people. A portion of athletic monikers officially adopted by the school that fall into this collection category started originally as derogatory epithets from others, but as an act of defiance, the school embraced the term as a rallying cry to overcome the term's negative origin. Because a collection is hard to represent or iconify, when a school chooses a collection as its athletic nickname, the school typically chooses a related but different mascot that symbolizes that collection. This article or section should be merged with ethnic group Ethnicity is the cultural characteristics that connect a particular group or groups of people to each other. ... A profession is an occupation that requires extensive training and the study and mastery of specialized knowledge, and usually has a professional association, ethical code and process of certification or licensing. ... Occupation may refer to: the principal activity (job or calling) that earns money for a person (see List of occupations, employment, profession, business) the periods of time following a nations territory invasion by controlling enemy troops (see Military occupation) the act of settling onto an uninhabited tract of land... A word or phrase is pejorative or derogatory (sometimes misspelled perjorative) if it expresses contempt or disapproval; dyslogistic (noun: dyslogism) is used synonymously (antonyms: meliorative, eulogistic, noun eulogism). ... An epithet (Greek - επιθετον and Latin - epitheton; literally meaning imposed) is a descriptive word or phrase. ... The Savior (1410s, by Andrei Rublev) For other senses of this word, see icon (disambiguation). ... Mascots at the Mascot Olympics in Orlando, FL. A mascot is something, typically an animal or human character used to represent a group with a common public identity, such as a school, professional sports team (the name often corresponds with the mascot), society or corporation. ...


A small number of schools choose a heroic person as their official athletic nickname. This person may be a graduate of the school who is viewed as embodying the school's mission. In religiously-affiliated schools, this person may be a historical person in the religion who has been bestowed an official designation in that religion, such as a saint in Roman Catholic or Orthodox Christianity. In general, the term Saint refers to someone who is exceptionally virtuous and holy. ... The Roman Catholic Church, most often spoken of simply as the Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with over one billion members. ... Orthodox Christianity is a generalized reference to the Eastern traditions of Christianity, as opposed to the Western traditions which descend from the Catholic Church. ...

Native American likeness

Likenesses to native Americans were at one time widely-popular athletic monikers, especially for schools that adopted them in the nineteenth century or early twentieth century. In recent years, native American organizations have protested the unlicensed use of likenesses of native Americans related to team names, team logos, athletic monikers, cheerleaders, and cheering techniques. The granting of overtly-expressed written licenses by native American organizations to use likenesses of native Americans in these ways is rare. Native Americans (also Indians, Aboriginal Peoples, American Indians, First Nations, Alaskan Natives, Amerindians, or Indigenous Peoples of America) are the indigenous inhabitants of The Americas prior to the European colonization, and their modern descendants. ... A logotype, commonly known as a logo, is the graphic element of a trademark or brand, which is set in a special typeface and/or font, or arranged in a particular, but legible, way. ... Cheerleading is recreational activity and sometimes competitive sport involving organised routines including elements of dance and gymnastics to encourage crowds to cheer on sports teams. ...

Because of this protest from native American organizations, some schools have promptly changed their athletic moniker and mascot and cheering practices without significant objection once the issue was raised, especially if such offense toward a group of people was viewed as incompatible with that school's stated mission or if the threat of legal action was too burdonsome. Other schools or their student body have defiantly defended their use of native American likenesses, especially if the institution views the use of native American likenesses as respectful or so intimately tied with history to be inseparable from the institution, such as if the name of institution derives from the name of a native American tribe. Still other schools have embarked on a tumultuous selection of a series of failed attempts to find a replacement for a previous athletic nickname that was a likeness of a native American. For such schools there may even be a point in the dispute to consider the possibility of return to the previously-discarded native-American likeness as the school's athletic moniker or its mascot.



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