It is bad enough that the newly-formed team of cycling superstars Andy and Frank Schleck is burdened with the unfortunate name “LeopardTrek” but we have (as have many other members of the media) just received word from Trek outlining the official use of the team’s name.
I’m not just talking about how to spell team’s name (all caps)–there are guidelines here for use of the word Team (we’re not allowed to say it), how to punctuate it (no hyphen, one word), but Trek went so far as to detail how we’re supposed to pronounce it as well.
Let me put this delicately, Trek. We love you, but no god-damned way are you going to tell me how to pronounce the word “Leopard.”
First, let’s look at their guidelines–below is their actual email, we’re not making this stuff up.
It’s been an exciting week for Trek as we announced our co-title sponsorship of LEOPARD TREK. The anticipation behind this launch is understandable, considering the fire power in the roster. There will undoubtedly be a significant portion of media coverage surrounding the team as the season kicks off next week at the Tour Down Under.
Please follow these naming standards when referring to the team in the media:
The team name is LEOPARD TREK. Please do not insert the word “Team” before LEOPARD TREK, in writing or conversation, as that is not part of the official name.
Please do not hyphenate LEOPARD TREK.
In written communication, LEOPARD TREK must be set in all caps.
In spoken communication, please use the appropriate pronunciation: LAY-oh-pard Trek.
INCORRECT: The new Team Leopard Trek includes… CORRECT: The new LEOPARD TREK team includes…
INCORRECT: Leopard-Trek was presented to the media… CORRECT: LEOPARD TREK was presented to the media…
INCORRECT: Trek announces sponsorship of Team LEOPARD TREK… CORRECT: Trek announces co-title sponsorship of LEOPARD TREK…
Thanks for your help in establishing the proper team name standards. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.**
The first, and most glaring problem here is that the name of the team derives from two separate company names, neither of which is written in all-caps.
Leopard is the absurdist name of the holding-company owned by team manager Brian Nygaard, clearly something that got mangled in someone’s German-to-English dictionary. It’s the sort of name we’d expect to see on a package of laundry detergent forlornly sitting on a shelf of a Laundromat in a small German town. And it would smell, oddly, like grapefruit.
Here are the meeting notes for the naming of the sports management company.
13:01 – Meeting started.
13:02 – Floor opened to discussion for names that indicate speed, strength and power.
13:03 – “Rocket Engine” suggested. Overturned.
13:04 – “Super Fast Awesome Leg Guys” suggested. Overturned.
13:07 – “Chimpansee Riding On A Segway” suggested. Overturned when discovered it already existed.
13:09 – Leopard suggested. Put to vote.
13:10 – Leopard made official name of holding company.
13:10 – Meeting adjourned.
The other component of the team name is Trek, which has never been written in all caps.
So you take two companies that have never had their names in all caps, put them on a bike and suddenly both must be written in all caps. Uh huh.
The next problem with Trek’s directive is that it mandates where we can say “team.” Quite honestly that’s a decision that’s not up to Trek. Sure, no one would say “Team Yankees” because baseball has never used that convention, but in cycling it’s common parlance to use the word “team” first regardless of whether it’s in the name of the team. Listen to the coverage of the Tour and you’ll hear every squad referred to as Team-something-or-other regardless of how the team is officially named. It’s just going to be that way.
If Trek had just asked us to keep the “team” lowercase, that would be one thing, but you can’t just banish a word from being used in certain parts of a sentence.
Moving on, the next head shaking issue is that the pronunciation of Team Leopard Trek is being mandated. Aside from Bob Roll I can’t think of a single American who says “LAY-oh-Pard.” Even the pretentious-affluent owners of the Jaguar (which is really a Ford) and call their car Jag-u-ar” aren’t ever going to say “LAY-oh-Pard.” Hell, put Bob, Phil and Paul in a booth and you’re lucky if they can pronounce any word the same way, good luck getting them all to say this as mandated.
And finally, to be nit-pickey there’s the issue of saying “Trek announces co-title sponsorship…” instead of “Trek announces sponsorship…” which can be boiled down to “if you put money into a team, you’re a sponsor. It doesn’t matter if there are other sponsors, you’re still a sponsor. No one goes around saying “Saxo Bank, co-title Sponsor of Team Saxo Bank Skin Guard” and they’re not obliged to say “co-title sponsor Trek” either.
I think this all just makes cycling sound haughty and pretentious. It’s already embarrassing enough that I have to explain to non-cycling friends that I’m rooting for Team Leopard Trek without having to root for “the LEOPARD TREK team.”
Oh, before I forget, if you mention this post to anyone, be sure you correctly say “I read a posting on BIKE HUGGER the website”–but remember to put “the website” at the end and to pronounce it “HUG-U-AR.”