Nothing says St. Louis like sports fans chanting, “Go Hawks!”
(That sentence should be printed in sarcasm font.)
I’m afraid the XFL underestimated this area’s detest for a certain Chicago hockey team when it decided to name the St. Louis XFL team the BattleHawks.
At least it’s better than BattleCubs?
I suppose the name could be a cap tip to our town's former NBA team. You know, the one that is now thriving in Atlanta. Sigh.
Here's how former Post-Dispatch sports writer Dan O'Neill once summed up the memory of the St. Louis Hawks:
The wound that hurts the most is one that never healed. From 1955-56 to 1967-68, St. Louis was a vibrant piece of the emerging NBA. The Hawks played in the NBA Finals four times from '57 to '61, winning the title in 1958. Their star, Bob Pettit, is among the handful of greatest sports figures in the city's history. And eight other NBA Hall of Famers played for the St. Louis Hawks. But after the 1967-68 season - the best record (56-26) in franchise history, owner Ben Kerner sold the team and it moved to Atlanta. Forty-five years later, it seems likely there will be a Starbucks on the moon before there is another NBA team in St. Louis.
I’m trying to be upbeat about the XFL. Honest.
There are football fans here. The NFL's slander doesn't change that. Here's a league that wants to be here, that wants to offer its own version of the game that got ripped away. We should be open-minded, right?
I thought the XFL missed a chance to increase interest in St. Louis when it passed on seriously considering Rams great Isaac Bruce for the head coaching job. But that should not be held against coach Jonathan Hayes. He’s earned the opportunity. His name won't sell tickets, but a winning team will eventually. That's his challenge.
I liked the hire of president Kurt Hunzeker, a St. Louis native who came up on the baseball side and learned how to successfully market Minor League Baseball. I love Hunzeker’s plan of engaging the community, of building interest through events across the area, including stops at Friday night high school games. Hunzeker is a dynamic hand that guides the team, but he’s not the face of it.
See the trend?
The XFL in St. Louis needs a splash. It needs some sizzle.
The questionable team name won’t do it. The Cardinals are this city’s bird. And while a nod to the area’s aviation history can be appreciated, it will be drowned out by those who don’t like the similarity to the Chicago Blackhawks. It's hard to blame that crowd.
The logo, however, is great. Flip it over, and the sword and wings spell STL. That’s sharp. Question: Are you going to go to a game because of a logo?
No, you’re going to go to a game — or watch it on TV — to see names that move the needle. And if the team is good, you are going to want to see more. That’s how momentum builds.
The Los Angeles Wildcats will have former USC and UCLA coordinator Norm Chow calling the shots for their offense. The Dallas Renegades have Bob Stoops as head coach. One of the league’s eight teams is going to land former Oklahoma Sooners and NFL quarterback Landry Jones, who became the first notable QB to sign on with the league that wants to challenge the NFL.
These names move the needle.
The St. Louis arm of the XFL has not yet moved the needle.
St. Louis offers the XFL the only team in its league that does not have to compete with the NFL for attention.
There are football fans here.
If they are fired up about the BattleHawks at this moment, it's hard to tell.
Twitter hot takes on the BattleHawks announcement
BattleHawks? Was NinjaSpiders taken?— Scott Petre (@MrPetre2You) August 21, 2019
Which is best?
Tampa Bay Vipers isn’t awesome, but it beats the hell out of “St. Louis BattleHawks”. That sounds like a rejected HeMan toy idea. https://t.co/NVK66rAvZz— Heath Cline (@heathradio) August 21, 2019
5) (cont.) BattleHawks is a bizarre name choice, and I don't see how it fits the city at all. And that logo looks like it was ripped straight from The Legend of Zelda. Yikes.— Braden Johnson (@SportsBraden) August 21, 2019
6) Seattle Dragons - another case of the mascot not matching the city at all. Why? Just, why?
Renegades = 👍🏻— Brooks Roland (@BrooksRoland82) August 21, 2019
Roughnecks = 👎🏻
Wildcats = 👎🏻 too generic
Guardians = Ok, could be better
Defenders = 👍🏻
BattleHawks = 👍🏻
Dragons = 👍🏻
Vipers = 👎🏻 (would’ve gone with either Bandits like the USFL days or something shark-related) https://t.co/SNfY2WXnuz
Battlehawks— Fragile Straight Cis White Male (@ColinLGlover) August 21, 2019
Too close to a rival?
@XFLStLouis Question ... Why would a St l. Louis team go with anything Hawks?? Biggest NHL rival is the Blackhawks..— Ryan Johnson (@SIR6Rhino) August 21, 2019
Some fans of the name
The #STL #XFL team honors our sports, aviation, and namesake history, #IMO. Hawks NBA Franchise, military plane/jet manufacturing, battle sword for King Louis IX (logo). I like it. @xfl2020 @XFLStLouis #BattleHawks pic.twitter.com/6YHi9IqhVJ— DominicThomas (@Dominic_Thomas9) August 21, 2019