Team Names: A Reflection of History

In this lesson students explore the ways in which history is often reflected in the names and logos of sports teams. They research the history of a Canadian community and create and illustrate a team name and logo reflective of its past. 

Created by Connie Wyatt Anderson Governor General's History Awards Winner 2014 recipient of the Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching 

January 10, 2018

This lesson plan is inspired by Kayak: Canada’s History Magazine for Kids Issue #62 — December 2017; Theme: Canada’s Favourite Sports

Lesson Overview

In this lesson students explore the ways in which history is often reflected in the names and logos of sports teams. They research the history of a Canadian community and create and illustrate a team name and logo reflective of its past. 

Time Required

 1 – 2 class periods 

Historical Thinking Concept(s) 

  • Establish historical significance 
  • Identify continuity and change 

Learning Outcomes

Student will:

  • Compare various Canadian sports teams’ names/logos 
  • Recognize that many team names/logos are a reflection of history 
  • Design and illustrate a sports team name/logo for a Canadian community based on its history 

 The Lesson Activity

Activating: How will students be prepared for learning? 

  • Display/show the students the logo for the Ottawa Redblacks football team. 
  • Ask:
    • Whose logo is this? [Ottawa Redblacks] 
    • In what league do they play? [Canadian Football League] 
    • What did the team used to be called? [Rough Riders/Renegades] 
  • Provide an overview of Ottawa’s CFL team renaming:
    • For the bulk of 120 years, Ottawa has had a CFL team. The team was known primarily as the Rough Riders, and for a brief period in the early 2000s, the Renegades. In July of 2010 the team’s new owners announced that the football club would be renamed. In 2012 the CFL hosted a contest to name the Ottawa team. Five names were put forth as potential team names: Rush, Nationals, Voyageurs, Redblacks, and Raftsmen. 
  • Write the five potential team names on the whiteboard. 
  • Ask: which names can we relate to history/geography? [Nationals, Voyageurs, Redblacks, Raftsmen] 
  • Expand on each:
    • Nationals … Ottawa has been the national capital of Canada since 1867 when the Dominion of Canada was created. 
    • Voyageurs … Voyageurs were French Canadian fur traders. Between the 1600s and the 1800s, the Ottawa River served as the chief artery of the Montréal fur trade as well as further exploration into the interior of the continent. 
    • Redblacks … By the 1830s the lumber industry became the focus of economic activity in Ottawa (then known as Bytown). Only thirty years later, Ottawa contained one of the largest sawmilling operations in the world. 
    • Raftsmen … A raftsman (plural raftsmen) is a person who transports a raft of floating logs downstream to a sawmill. 
  • Further expand on the name Redblacks. Show the class the logo again:
    • The sawblade in the Redblacks logo represents Ottawa’s history as lumber town. The team’s uniform colours of red, black, and white, honour earlier Ottawa football teams, the Rough Riders and Renegades; as well, the colours red and black are the hues of the typical checked plaid that lumberjacks wear. 

Acquiring: What strategies facilitate learning for groups and individuals? 

  • Explain that often the name of a sports team is illustrative of a city’s/area’s history. Events, people, and economic bases are historically significant. 
  • Brainstorm: What other Canadian sports team’s names and/or logos reflect the history of their area? [Montreal Canadiens, Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Regina Pats, Victoria Royals, Ottawa Senators …. Local school teams, etc.]. 
  • Ask: What types of history can be reflected in these names? [Economic history, cultural history, military history, social history, political history, etc.]. 
  • Ask: Does the name of our school teams reflect our history? If so, in what ways? If not, what name would? Why? 

Applying: How will students demonstrate their understanding? 

  • Assign each student the name of a Canadian city/town/community. 
  • Instruct them to conduct a brief, 500-word research into that community’s history [Economic history, cultural history, military history, social history, political history, etc.]. 
  • Have them choose and design a sports team name and logo to reflect their historical research. 
  • Instruct them to write one or two sentences explaining the historical significance of the logo. 

Create class bulletin board display with the team logos and associated histories. 

Materials/Resources: 

  • Large printed or electronic image of the Ottawa Redblacks team logo 
  • Access to Internet for student research 
  • Art supplies: paper, coloured pencils, marker, etc. 
  • Display space for student work – bulletin boards 

Extension Activity: 

Using Kayak: Canada’s History Magazine for Kids Issue #62 — December 2017; Theme: Canada’s Favourite Sports: 

  • Enhance the class bulletin board display with images, articles, etc. relevant to the students’ study, or 
  • Explore stories in Kayak that draw comparisons between local history and team names. 
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