Monday, June 17, 2019

Athletes Who Live Up To Their Name

In the June 5-16, 2019 issue of Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden pays tribute to the late Bart Starr, one of the most successful NFL quarterbacks of all time. In his column "Point After" he writes,
He had a cinematic football hero's name, two short syllables full of hard consonants evoking crisp autumn afternoons, long touchdown passes and a stadium full of unconditional love. A name for a child born into greatness in America's Game: Bryan Bartlett Starr, known forever as Bart...
I listen to a lot of sports talk radio. Many names and events go in one ear and out the other. In the days that followed Starr's death, however, I paid attention. I noticed. I remembered the references and recollections, the stories and more—even though I never watched him play. Upon reading SI, I realized why: it's because of his name. 

Certain athletes have names that evoke their own destiny. For example, Zion Williamson has yet to play in the NBA, but I am convinced he is getting a lot of air time and chatter not only because of his talent and size, but because his name is epic. It flows. It suggests that he will be great. He must be. His name allows for it!
I like to think of other names that carry their own majesty. I wonder if parents simply feel as though they pass along a special fate for their son or daughter through a name. For example, Woods' parents may have named their son Eldrick, because it began with "E" (for his father, Earl) and ended with "K" (for his mother, Kultida) but to the sports world he has only ever been Tiger. This nickname was given Woods. in honor of his father's friend Col. Vuong Dang Phong, who had also been known as Tiger. Tiger Woods. What a name. Great logo, too.

I *believe* I once read that Kawhi Leonard's father wanted to name his son with an alternative spelling of the Hawaiian Island. Though I cannot confirm my speculation (can't find the SI article), it will be interesting to see how popular his name becomes in The North. Predictions are high that the NBA Finals' MVP will be in the inspiration behind the names of both male and female children in the next year. And why not? He has a great name.

A sign of status is when an athlete or celebrity is known simply by his or her first name. Oprah, Ellen and Madonna. In sports we have Serena, Shaq, Kobe and Lance. That being said, some names just work better than others.: LeBron.

Yes, we have nicknames and abbreviations, initials and numbers, but the purpose of this posting is to get you to think about those great names in sports.
CS Lewis, possibly the most important Christian writer of the 20th century said,
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.
What a profound outlook on humanity. We are not ordinary, we are extraordinary. Though we must each confront our mortality, our immortality is captured in spirit and our soul. It is evidenced in our writing, music and art, our relationships, our legacy and our loves—good, bad or otherwise. And, of course in sports.

Lewis ought to know that although there may not be any ordinary people, there are ordinary names. I'm sorry if your name is John Smith, Bob Davis or even Gary Woodland. While you have probably never had a problem with others pronunciation of your name, they are not the type of which I speak. So here are a few of the and all.
  • Venus Williams
  • Brooks Koepka...or better yet Brooks Robinson
  • Joe Montana
  • Mickey Mantle
  • Skylar Diggins
  • Knute Rockne
These are but a few of the great athletes who live up to their names. I invite you to think of the others...and share on this list! Isaiah 43:1 says "I have called you by name and you are mine." To each is a unique, God given name. Some of those names however, are extraordinary.

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