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The Michigan State athletic teams all share the name of Spartan and their mascot and logo resemble the ancient Greek warriors of Sparta. This was not always the case, and the term was first used in 1926 as applied to their baseball team. In 1925, Michigan Agricultural College became Michigan State College. Under their old school name, teams were referred to as the Aggies, short for Agriculturals. Since Michigan State was no longer an agricultural school, they needed to change the name of their sports teams.
A contest took place where students could vote for and choose the new nickname of the teams. They eventually chose to rename the teams, "The Michigan Staters." George Alderton, a journalist at the Lansing Journal who covered the teams, thought the name was too cumbersome and did not approve. He searched through the other student recommendations and spotted the term, "Spartans." Alderton bypassed the contest and chose Spartans as the new nickname that is used today.
Michigan State University Athletics. (n.d.). History & traditions. https://msuspartans.com/sports/2018/7/20/trads-msu-traditions-html.aspx