So what’s in a name? In the greater scheme of things does a surname have any significant relevance when we talk about or judge athletes on pure merit? There is a common thread to the most popular names in sports and you don’t have to have a PhD in sociology to identify what it is. For all that is changing in America culturally, the sporting landscape remains dominated by an Anglo-Saxon heritage from centuries ago.
Outside of this domain the names Garcia and Martinez are in the top 20 for the general American demographic, but not when it comes to professional sports. Why is this exactly? Is systemic bias an issue when analyzing the merits of a sportsman or woman? If a College is looking at a talented baseball player, would they base their decision on whether or not the kid is a blue eyed, blonde haired Alex Smith versus a Latino Javier Hernandez?
What we know for sure is that bias exists everywhere we look. Whether its based on gender, personality type, brands or race – the institutions that have been built generations ago were designed to fall in the favor of their heritage and belief system. Part of it might be conscious, but a lot of the time the prejudices we carry are instinctive.
The good news though if you’re a supporter of an NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB franchise or across any other sport for that matter is that popular names become interchangeable. Any Denver Broncos fan can hold onto their Anderson jersey, likewise the Cavs faithful if they somehow went out to purchase a Jones kit. History and statistics tell us this carousel will come back around again and again.
Standing out from the crowd with these surnames is hard to do, but some have excelled more than others. Here are the top 20 most common names in sports.
By far the most common surname in the English language and the Western world, it’s no surprise Smiths continue to dominate the field from all corners of the sports world. Forget past athletes from generations ago, just turn on a television or read a post game review online and they are everywhere! Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., Kansas City QB Alex Smith, Cavs forward J.R. Smith, Orlando Magic center Jason Smith, Nashville Predators right winger Craig Smith, Arizona Coyotes goalie Mike Smith – you get the idea.
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