‘The Athlete Formerly Known As’….Do Pro Athletes Ever Go Overboard With Name Changes?

“Ochocinco”….”Metta World Peace”…Is there ever a point when name changing gets out of control?

By: Taren Vaughan

As a way to show their originality, various athletes, whether they play sports on the professional level or not, find different ways to stand out amongst their teammates. Because altering of their uniforms is forbidden, some of them will go to the extent of cutting their hair or dying it a bold color. Others may add a couple unique tatts to their face or neck. As if the out of control hairstyles weren’t enough, professional athletes have gone to the extent of changing their legal names too.

Let’s flash back to one of the most controversial pro ballers of all time whose image left a lasting impression in the minds of sports fans.

Former NBA player Dennis Rodman had absolutely no problem at all dying his hair blonde or rockin’ a wig and a wedding gown just for the hell of it. He wasn’t afraid of what people thought about his “awkward” appearances both on and off the court.

A new school version of Rodman has emerged in Lakers forward Ron Artest. Unlike the former member of the “Bad Boys” dynasty, Artest went much further than the outrageous haircuts. He completed dropped his entire name and is now going by a name that many people would say describes him in the least bit: “Metta World Peace”.

So it’s understood that Artest is trying to move away from the roughneck image that has been attached to him for many years now, much as a result of the all out brawl that took place between the Pistons and the Pacers in 2004. And for anyone who saw that fight, knows exactly why this is name change comes with much irony behind it; the word “peace” and Ron Artest don’t naturally go hand in hand. But he is on the road to improvement as far as his attitude is concerned.

Yeah, we get it, Ron Artest wants to prove to the world that he has been working on his bad attitude that has gotten him in trouble one too many times. That’s obvious. But couldn’t we come to that conclusion without him changing his name to “Metta World Peace”? Why not just write a book or give a speech about his growth as a person? That would have summed it all up right?

What’s wrong with keeping the names that you were born with?

Unless you are name is a pure headache to spell out on the back of a jersey or has caused you much embarrassment growing up as a child, why do some athletes feel the need to change their birth names or in some cases, throw it out completely?

Well, it is a free country and no matter how much money you make, everyone is entitled to freedom of expression though it can be heavily frowned upon. So essentially, athletes or anybody else for that matter can do whatever the hell they want to with their names. And reasons could stem from a change in religion too. All situations are different. At the end of the day, we just have to face the fact that everyone is not going to rock a clean cut or carry on the name that their parents gave them. But for pro athletes, how does that affect those who watch them play?

Can you image a commentator or analyst talking about a play involving “Big Baby Smooth” throwing for a touchdown on national television? Or a kid walking around with a jersey on with microscopic letters on the back because their favorite player decided to create a long, drawn out last name? Come on people, really.

The name changing and outlandish hairstyles can almost serve as a distraction from the fans’ take on the athlete’s actual performance too. Spectators are too busy trying to figure out what is etched in the side of a player’s head versus how many points he or she scored in a game.

Wonder who will be next. Maybe a MLB player will have an epiphany and change their name to something “creative”.

Freedom of expression, yeah it may be, but the name changing can get a little foolish sometimes don’t you think?

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