Monday, July 18, 2011

The Name Game!

Over the course of time, we have seen some pretty goofy things in the world of sports. Even the most common of acts, such as the changing of names, have been a long reality in the melting pot of the United States. As of late, we have seen this act been taken to the extreme as a statement, for religious purposes, and for possibly the silliest of reasons. That's right, folks. Silly reasons.

Today at The Sports Nut Blogs, we're going to take a tour--rather, a fun 'ole trip--down the lane of names. Andrew will be joining me in giving opinions on the names we've provided. We're going to be giving the names the lovely Ivy League grading scale treatment as well. (Trust us, we know what it is; our school enforces it.)

(Note: Andrew's thoughts are paraphrased. He didn't write them down. I listened and scribbled down a general gist of what he said.)

Let's get into the spirit of things and put on some music during our little session here:

First we're going to begin with the most obvious and recent ones:

Chad Ochocinco (formerly Chad Johnson) -- Cincinnati Bengals
Why? - For Hispanic Heritage Month in 2008, he decided to change his last name to "Ocho Cinco" which translates to "eight five."
Andrew's thoughts: Nobody really expected this. It's not like he had a name like Peyton Manning. I don't mind the name. He calls himself an entertainer, so I don't see anything wrong with it.
Grade: B [because apparently he plays for Cincinnati]
AZ's thoughts: It's a really awkward reason to change the name--and now that he especially wants to change his last name back to Johnson, he looks somewhat foolish for doing it to begin with. However, at least he put some thought into what he was doing.
Grade: B

Metta World Peace (Ron Artest) -- Los Angeles Lakers
Why? - Good question. I guess because he wanted to. He filed the petition, so it sounds like the name change is official.
Andrew's thoughts: Because his career is on the decline, I think it's a stupid way to grab attention. It's a creative idea, but I still find it stupid.
Grade: C
AZ's thoughts: Ugh...seriously? You think you're going to get away with changing your name to that without getting scrutinized for it? Get real. It's a really cheesy idea.
Grade: D

Now that we've gotten some recent ones out of the way, let's go into the past and see some old-school ones.

Magic Johnson (formerly Earvin Johnson)
Andrew's thoughts: It's a classy move. People called him that as a nickname to begin with, and since he was good enough to have the name, I like it.
Grade: A
AZ's thoughts: I think it's a good move. I know his mom didn't like the fact he dropped "Earvin," but c'mon. In a field of sporting and entertainment, a name like "Earvin" is not going to sell. Magic will. Besides, I'm pretty sure it wasn't his birth name to begin with.
Grade: A

Pele (formerly Edison Arantes do Nascimento)
Andrew's thoughts: Edison? Really? It helped in a big way as far as economic value. Also, could you imagine people trying to pronounce it in the United States? Exactly.
Grade: N/A -- It gets a 'P' for Pass. [This is because I dislike soccer.]
AZ's thoughts: Here's a fun fact for y'all: he got the nickname from his favorite footballer Bile but he would mispronounce it as a youth. It's also Hebrew for miracle. I figured I would just put something here because I agree with Andrew a lot on this one.
Grade: A

Tiger Woods (formerly Eldrick Woods)
Andrew's thoughts: I'm not gonna lie, Eldrick just sounds dumb. It's not marketable either, especially if he was a child prodigy at a sport like golf.
Grade: A
AZ's thoughts: It was an interesting nickname to give the kid, that's for sure. It sounds like a pro wrestler's name, but in the sport he's in, it's something unique.
Grade: B+

Muhammad Ali (formerly Cassius Clay)
Andrew's thoughts: I know that he did this because he converted to Islam, but I think this really helped him in the long-run as far as getting the attention for himself and the sport of boxing.
Grade: A
AZ's thoughts: Sure, he did it for the religious reasons, but I don't necessarily think it would have affected his career. His confidence and skill did more talking than the name change. However, this name is as legendary as the man himself.
Grade: A

Babe Ruth (formerly George Herman Ruth)
Andrew's thoughts: This is, in my opinion, the man who originated the name change in sports. It's incredibly identifiable; so much that people think the candy bar Baby Ruth is named after him.
Grade: A
AZ's thoughts: Even though it's another nickname, it's a very iconic one. I bet if we were grading this name back in the 1910's or 20's, we'd be giving this a low grade, but this name is on the face of a baseball legend.
Grade: A

Hulk Hogan (formerly Terry Bollea)
Andrew's thoughts: Since he's a professional wrestler, he needed something that implied manliness. With a name like "Hulk," it really sounds that if you say your prayers, train really hard, and eat lots of vitamins, you're going to be strong like him. However, an Italian with the last name of "Hogan" is just weird.
Grade: A
AZ's thoughts: In the WWE's heyday, a name like this really inspired little boys to be strong and stand up to the bullies. Also, this sounds like a legitimate nickname-style name, which is always a plus.
Grade: A

Bo Jackson (formerly Vincent Jackson)
Andrew's thoughts: It's too short. Plus, I also like the name "Vince," so it really doesn't appeal to me.
Grade: C+ [because apparently he played for the Raiders]
AZ's thoughts: I have no idea how you get "Bo" from "wild boar hog," but whatever. This is also a unique name for a unique player who was an All-Star in two pro sports leagues. However, like Andrew said, I would have been just as cool with calling him Vince.
Grade: B

Chipper Jones (formerly Larry Jones)
Andrew's thoughts: To be honest, it just sounds cooler than "Larry." Plus, it was also a nickname that makes him sound cooler.
Grade: B
AZ's thoughts: Clearly it's a nickname. Clearly the name Larry Jones is too generic even for the sport of baseball. Again, uniqueness in entertainment is good. Just don't get on the bad side of the fans, they'll starting taunting you with "Laaaaaarry" chants during games.
Grade: B+

World B. Free (formerly Lloyd Bernard Free)
Andrew's thoughts: Unlike the name "Chad Ochocinco," this name actually promotes some sort of good. It promotes something larger than the sport.
Grade: B+
AZ's thoughts: The really cool part about this one is that he really didn't have to change a whole lot of stuff for this name to happen. He already had the "B. Free" part in it, so that's lucky. I agree with Andrew's statements.
Grade: B+

During this conversation, we had talked about a lot of other athletes who had changed their names, but for the sake of not having an overdose of repetition, we omitted those. Those names included on that list are Ronaldo (the Brazilian and much better footballer...not Cristiano Ronaldo), Karim Abdul-Jabbar, and Ahmad Rashad, among others.
In conclusion, the whole idea of name-changing is a privilege that is often used and sometimes abused. Sometimes it makes the person a walking, talking billboard. However, we can't make decisions for them. It's what they want to do and how they want to be recognized. Let's just hope it works out for them in the end.

Thanks for playing The Name Game with us while we were keeping Tom Hanks company in the floor. Hopefully the Care Bears won't come after him. (Joke from The Money Pit)

--AZ and Andrew