Sports fans love winners. That's why teams like the New York Yankees, Detroit Red Wings, New England Patriots and that's why the Golden State Warriors are so popular now. It helps that most of those teams are in large markets, but they all have a history of winning (except for the Warriors who are just starting) and cheering for a successful team is a lot more fun than rooting for a losing one.
Perhaps the only thing that people enjoy in sports as much as a winner is a good story. The most unique and/or uplifting narrative is often the one that piques our interest The Jamaican bobsleigh team was able to captivate us at the 1988 Winter Olympics because their story was unheard of and unexpected. They were a team from a tropical country competing in a premier winter sport on the grandest stage. The uniqueness of their story made them a household name and inspired the 1993 film Cool Runnings. Although the four-man team's appearance at their first Olympic Games in Calgary ended in a crash, they still got back up, picked up their sled, and continued to embrace the sport. Five of the seven Winter Olympics since have featured a bobsleigh team from Jamaica.
We tend to focus much of our attention on the premier sports teams in the major sports leagues, but as the Jamaican bobsleigh team showed us, there are interesting sports stories happening all over the world at many different levels, many of which involve team's we've never heard of. Whether it be a story of triumph against the odds or simply an interesting story of how a team got it's unique name, there are many notable reasons to take interest in a team you otherwise would have no knowledge of. Here are the top 15 sports teams you didn't know existed:
15 Las Vegas Posse
The four major professional North American sports leagues all have yet to gain a foothold on the Las Vegas market, although the NHL looks like they are planning to be the first, but the Canadian Football League actually attempted it in 1994. During the league's failed southern expansion era of the '90s, Las Vegas was rewarded with the Posse franchise. The team's lone season ended up being a disaster. They played in a stadium far from the city and practiced in a small field in the parking lot of a casino, and head coach Ron Meyer and many of the players were unfamiliar with the rules of the Canadian game. The team finished with a record of just 5-13.
14 FC Midtjylland
13 Toronto Blueshirts
Unless you're well versed in hockey history, you probably aren't aware of the Toronto Blueshirts and how the creation of the National Hockey League led to their demise. Founded in 1911 as a member of the National Hockey Association, the Blueshirts began playing in the 1912-13 season and won their lone Stanley Cup in 1914 with a victory over the Montreal Canadiens. After Eddie Livingstone took over ownership of the team in 1915, he began feuding with the league's other owners and midway through the 1916-17 season they decided they'd had enough.
12 Sheboygan Red Skins
They may have had a racist name that no one other than Dan Snyder would possibly justify in 2016, but Sheboygan, Wisconsin's former basketball team will forever be remembered as one of the founding members of the NBA in the smallest market in league history. The team won a National Basketball League title in 1943 and continued to be one of the NBL's top teams until the 1949 merger with the Basketball Association of America to form the National Basketball Association.
11 Akron RubberDucks
The Double-A Eastern League affiliate of the Cleveland Indians were named the Akron Aeros from 1996 until 2013 when owner Ken Babby decided it was time for a change after his first season in charge. A name change had previously been considered in 2009, but 67% of fans voted to keep the Aeros name as it paid homage to Neil Armstrong and the Wright Brothers all of whom were from the state of Ohio.
10 Fort Wayne TinCaps
9 The Irish Women's National Curling Team
8 Indian National Baseball Team
India isn't exactly a country known for its baseball prowess, but that didn't prevent sports agent J.B. Bernstein from creating a reality show, titled The Million Dollar Arm, in hopes of finding the next Major League pitcher. Bernstein figured that in a country of 1.2 billion people he could find someone capable of throwing a fastball at least 85 mph. Out of 37,000 contestants, two victors emerged - Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel – both of whom had never thrown a baseball prior to their appearance on the show. The pair were then trained to pitch in the USA and signed contracts to join the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.
7 Norwegian National Sledge Hockey Team
Given Norway's proximity to great hockey playing nations in Sweden and Finland, it would seem natural that they'd develop an affinity for the game as well, but so far that hasn't really happened. Just eight Norwegian born players have ever played a game in the NHL and only Mats Zuccarello and Espen Knutsen have reached the 200 game mark. When you think of great hockey countries, Norway doesn't jump to mind. However, when it comes to great sledge hockey countries, the Norwegians are one of the best.
6 Orlando Solar Bears
5 Las Vegas 51s
Originally named the Las Vegas Stars when they began as the triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres in the Pacific Coast League in 1983, the team changed names in 2000 when they became the affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The name 51s was adopted as a reference to Area 51, the top secret military base located roughly 80 miles away from the city that has long been a central location for UFO conspiracy theories. The 51s' logo features an alien head with baseball stitching and their mascot is an alien like creature named Cosmos.
4 Albuquerque Isotopes
If you are fan of The Simpsons, you may be familiar with the episode titled "Hungry, Hungry Homer" in which Homer Simpson goes on a hunger strike to protest the Springfield Isotopes baseball team's potential move to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Well, in 2002 the name came to life when the triple-A Calgary Cannons of the Pacific Coast League moved there in time for the 2003 season. A fan poll to name the franchise ended with 67 percent of people in favour of adopting the Isotopes name rather than the Dukes name which had been a staple of Albuquerque's minor league baseball team from 1915 until the previous team's departure in 2000.
3 Leicester City FC
2 AFC Wimbledon
In 2002 the owners of Wimbledon FC decided to move their team roughly 70 miles to Milton Keynes as the English Football Association believed it was “not in the wider interests of football” to keep a team in Wimbledon. The move upset the team's local fans who protested the decision to no avail. Once the decision was finalized to make the move, a group of fans decided to start their own team despite having no experience running a football club. They hired coaches, got sponsorship from a video game company, rented a stadium, held tryouts in a public park and began the 2002-03 season playing in the ninth tier league.
1 Harlem Rens
The New York Renaissance, also known as the Harlem Rens, were an all-black barnstorming basketball team that began playing in 1922 and last for nearly 30 years compiling a record of 2,588-529. The Rens took on anyone who would play them including the Original Celtics who were the dominant team at that time. Racial tensions prevented the Rens from joining the American Basketball League in 1925, but the Original Celtics showed their support for the team by refusing to join the ABL.
The Rens enjoyed their most success in the 1930s. They won the world basketball championship after defeating the Original Celtics and they finished the 1932-33 season with a 112-8 record. Their record breaking season featured an 88-game winning streak that doubled the previous mark set by the Celtics.
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