Professional athletes’ names

I know you guys are sick to death of hearing about my love for Joachim, but I have a new question regarding it: As you all know, my husband refuses to budge on the name, and one of the reasons is the NBA player Joakim Noah. My brother, when he discovered that I liked the name, wrinkled his nose and also pointed to Joakim Noah as the reason he doesn’t like it. This is despite the fact that there are a million and one Joachims who play professional hockey and (European) football — those aren’t sports we follow, so they’re off the radar and do nothing to help my cause.

But then, my husband has jokingly (but maybe not?) suggested Donovan about a thousand times because Donovan McNabb used to be his team’s quarterback, and when I told my hubs I was going to suggest Tristan to my other brother and his wife for their little boy on the way, he told me he “doesn’t hate it” and that “Tristan Thompson is pretty well known right now as a basketball player.” So. Apparently that makes a previously not-okay name now okay. When I told my sister-in-law that, she said my brother agreed.

I know the men in my family are not the only ones who are like this — which professional athletes have impacted your baby naming either positively or negatively? I want to hear about them all, but I’m having a particularly hard time coming up with female athletes that have potential to interfere with a couple’s baby naming (other than Anastasia “Nastia” Liukin, who was the topic of quite a few name convos in my family of origin during her Olympics. I’m not pointing any fingers, but you know who you are).



20 thoughts on “Professional athletes’ names

  1. I don’t have any personal stories to share, but I can think of a few female athletes whose names would be off the table for me based on association alone:

    Tonya (Tonya Harding aka the Nancy Kerrigan knee-whacker)

    Hope (Hope Solo, goalie for US women’s soccer, arrests for domestic violence, etc)

    Marion (Marion Jones, track-and-field star who lost her medals for doping)

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  2. To continue with my Elias obsession – my husband has nixed it 3 times now because of Patrik Elias, a Czech hockey player whom literally no other person I know has heard of. Grrr. He also shot down Emmett because of Emmitt Smith (NFL), but I didn’t mind that one as much.

    And I want Oscar for this baby boy (if I can’t have Elias!) but my secretary said her first association is with Oscar Pistorius which gives me pause.

    I live in Massachusetts, where the number of baby boys named Brady is out of control. 🙂

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    • Yes, Brady! Haha! Oscar’s a great example … your Elias example is hilarious, I can totally see my husband doing something like that … and no Emmett because of Emmitt Smith! Huh!


  3. I’ve been suggesting Nico as a middle name or nickname for years. This summer, my husband was watching some Formula One race in which some guy named Nico won. He turns to me and says, “what do you think of Nico as a name?” I decided to play it smart and say what a great idea. Better to keep the commentary in my head on that one.

    The female athlete with the most familiar name association to me is Serena (Williams) but there’s no bad association here. She certainly wouldn’t be a reason not to use the name but people might ask if a baby was named after her.

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    • Ohmygosh. That is a whooooole other topic Colleen — husbands who make suggestions as if they thought of them when the wives have actually been saying it forever … I have LOTS of example of that kind of thing with the couples I know!! 😀

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  4. I loved the idea of Dante when I was pregnant with our son eleven years ago. But my husband (and brother-in-law), both said that it was a name for a jock, probably a football player. Think Daunte Culpepper – and I think they had three or four others they mentioned, too. So … I get it. But I’m half-Italian, and argued that the literary reference was a thousand times more significant. But no. Totally lost that one.

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  5. I am woefully un-American in my dislike of all sports that are not soccer, lol. So thankfully, those names don’t normally get ruined for me, because they’re usually too exotic for me to feel like they’re usable.

    I get more names ruined for me more by pop culture. Or maybe ruined isn’t the right word–unusable might be better. Like Angelina. Love the name, and I even kind of like Angelina Jolie, I think she’s quite talented and her humanitarian work is wonderful. But I feel like if I used Angelina, everyone would be like “Like Angelina Jolie?”

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  6. I think I would only associate names with sports personalities/athletes if they were super unusual/uncommon and that person was one of the few who had it – and it would have to be BIG stars, because frankly outside of specific sport followers, I don’t think most people would make the associations.

    But then again, guys probably think very differently about this.

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  7. I’ll have to read this one aloud to you-know-who and see what other names he can come up with because of the athlete connection!!! I’m sure he has a ton…

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  8. You know it is really interesting to look at baby names in relation to association with the famous, and sports figures are a great one to follow, particularly if the names are unique enough to link the association. So just for fun…

    An example I noticed when I was a kid. Nadia went from relative obscurity as a US girl’s name, 87 girls named Nadia in 1975, to 586 in 1976, the year of Nadia Comaneci fame as the darling of the Olympics. Was high for a couple years (interestingly tapered off but is having a climb again since 2000).

    Serena Williams who was already mentioned – started professional career in 1995 – name starts climbing that year making significant jump over next 8 or so years.

    Kareem – nothing before 1960, then a few boys named that in some years of the 60’s, but went from 44 in 1970 to 377 the year after Lew Alcindor changed his name to Kareem Abdul Jabbar and it has stayed pretty steady in that range since.

    Other than a weird blip with 5 Kobes in 1989 there are none – non-existent boy name until 1995 when Kobe was on radar in college basketball. 1996, the year he was drafted went to 87 boys with that name, 350 the next year and over a 1000 the following, peaking at about 1500. Highest popularity time that first 5 years. The year after his sexual assault accusations name dropped significantly (in half).

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