What’s in a name?

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By: Brian Laubscher
Sports Information Director

Freakonomics has an interesting chapter about names

One of the unintended affects of being a sports information director is how it affects your thoughts about names.  It’s something that most people wouldn’t consider, but if you really think about it – we are constantly typing and viewing names.

I don’t think a day goes by when I don’t view a roster of one of our teams or one of our opponents and over the years, I’ve developed some pretty strong opinions based upon what I’ve come across.  I’ve always shared my thoughts with my assistants and some close friends, and they know how I feel about such things as “misspellings” of names and the ever-present “unique” names.  It has only recently become more relevant and I’m concerned that the list of “absolutely not” names has become much longer than the list of “yeah, I could see that” names.

Here are some reasons why that list is continually growing:

1) Why must someone have a truly unique name?  Shouldn’t their personality make them unique instead of searching for ways to make them different or “special”?  I recently read Freakonomics and the book has a chapter dedicated to names.  This chapter explains that people have actually named their kids, get this — Unique.  Seriously?  Your unique name is to name your kid Unique?  Over the years, I’ve seen some real doosies on opponent rosters – everything from Tuesdee, Tianna, Ebet, Andra, Nushaa and Karis.  Let’s just say that none of them is going to make my list.

2) Blatant “misspellings” of names for the sake of being unique.  Freakonomics explains that there are several different spellings of the name Unique, including Uneek, Uneque, Uneqqee.  Again, if you have already gone with a unique name to make your kid stand out, going so far as to misspell the name Unique is just lunacy.  Some other popular “misspellings” include: Ashleigh instead of Ashley, Ginnifer instead of Jennifer, Rachael instead of Rachel, Bryan instead of Brian, Jakob instead of Jacob, Ricci instead of Ricki and, seen above, Tuesdee instead of Tuesday.  This topic gets me more than anything else because when writing a game story, the last thing you want to worry about is whether you have the name spelled correctly — but you really have to because so many people have decided to misspell their names on purpose.  The worst is the name that is unintentionally misspelled on the birth certificate like — Micheal.

3) After 13 years of watching W&L teams play, along with our opponents, I’ve definitely developed opinions of some names based upon whether I liked a particular player or, worse yet, didn’t.  Just as my wife has had some poor students who have ruined names for her, there have been several players in the ODAC that have ruined names for me.  I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t name my kid Jared because of my dislike for a former ODAC basketball player by the name — or because of those annoying jewelry commercials.  Same is true with Mason (last name of a former ODAC lacrosse player) and Carson is out because of Carson Daly (I despise him).

4) My last reasoning against certain names is because there are far too many accepted spellings of a name.  These are the absolute worst when writing a story because of the sheer number of possibilities for me to make a simple and honest mistake when typing their name.  It also takes extra time to verify that you have the correct spelling of the name.  Examples of such include:

1. Zac, Zack, Zach
2. Brittany, Britney, Britany, Brittani, Brittni
3. Catherine, Katharine, Katherine, Kathryn
4. Jasmine, Jasmin, Jasmyn, Jazmyn, Jazmine
5. Antoine, Antwan, Antawn, Antwon, Antwone
6. Kristen, Kristin, Krystin, Kristyn, Christen, Christin

So, after considering how much is eliminated for one reason or another, the question is what’s left?

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One Response to “What’s in a name?”

  1. Marianne LaSala Says:

    Joe!!

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