Sports: Nicknames & Stereotypes

When you think of basketball who do you think of? You think of great players such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Lebron James etc. What about when you think of hockey, then who do you think about? You think of great players such as Wayne Gretsky, Alex Ovechkin, Steve Yzerman, etc. Who do you think of when you think about basketball? A tall, black male with long arms and legs that can jump with decent hand-eye coordination. Who do you think of when you think about hockey? An average sized white guy, that can probably not speak English without an accent,¬†with a terrific sense of balance. Neither of these stereotypes seems very fair to guys like Larry Byrd and David Byfuglien, both of whom don’t deserve to be stereotyped based on what game they play. Jackie Robinson didn’t stand for that and neither should they.

Jackie Robinson was the first Major League Baseball player of African American descent back when the stereotype for baseball players were guys along the lines of the Babe and Joe Dimaggio. Lanky, white males with turns of speed, suffiecient hitting ability, and the inability to miss a small, white ball when it comes near you. The world of baseball as we know it now doesn’t subscribe to that stereotype anymore with black and latino players showing they have just as much skill. The sport of baseball, incidently is home to a wide variety of nicknames, probably with it being America’s dearest old sport.

Nicknames, despite cropping up in other sports such as baseketball and hockey, are predominantly based in baseball. “The Slugger”, “The Heater”, “Hammer” and the list goes on and on with ever single player being labeled with an overarching ‘nickname’ that encompasses their whole character to those watching the sport. With a name like “Home Run” you wouldn’t really have to ask what that person did, would you? However, some went beyond sense and comprehension such as “Biscuit Pants” and “Jidge” referring, believe it or not, to Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. These nicknames however can just be another way to stereotype somebody in their role of whatever sport they play.

Some nicknames stereotype against color or race while others mock physical features or personalities. “Fatty”, “Ugly”, “Stumpy”, “Darkie”, “Crabby”, and “Psycho” all seem to be pretty derogatory terms, right? Everyone is a legit name for a baseball player at one point in the sport’s history. The stereotyping may or may not be intentional but it is still a criticism of someone who doesn’t fit the mold of what the sport’s fans expect of him and it’s wrong.

2 Responses to “Sports: Nicknames & Stereotypes”

  1. tscott3 says:

    Stereotypes and nicknames are horrible but with this kind of society its going to be hard to break away from all that. It’s going to take years before it stops. Some stereotypes and nicknames aren’t meant to be racist but some people over think and accuses so then it becomes stereotypical. It’s hard to separate the real from the not.

  2. lizking17 says:

    Ummm…..Babe Ruth definately wasn’t lanky. I can’t copy and paste a picture but if you look him up you can see he was pretty chunky. True with Jackie Robinson breaking the way into baseball but you can still see stereotypes in baseball but it just happens that way. You’re going to have the faster people in the outfield so they can track down the balls. The pitchers are generally the tall guys just because they have more power with that body type. These stereotypes can be disproven but generally the fastest are in the outfield, the best and accurate throwers are in the infield and thats just how it is. I personally think these stereotypes aren’t made because people are being racist or judgemental, its just because thats what they are used to seeing and what they generalize the particular athlete to be.