Recently, I attended a roller derby game for the first time. For those unfamiliar with the sport, it’s really confusing, but one of the rules they have is that they are allowed to sport nicknames on their backs, a flexibility not known in any other major sport.
But, recently, the NBA allowed the Miami Heat and the Brooklyn Nets to play a game with the players having their nicknames on their back. King James, D-Wade, Birdman, Truth, The Big Ticket, and D-Will took to the court in what was a small triumph for nicknames in sports.
Of course, Andrei Kirilenko’s nickname, AK-47, was not allowed, for reasons that only could be summed up as the NBA being a bit timid.
This then raises a question that probably hasn’t been asked prior: are nicknames ready to take all sports by storm? Or was that a mere gimmick to sell tickets and merchandise?
I think both.
Watching games with nicknames involved invokes a feeling of a level playing field. Too often, we put these athletes on infinitely high pedestals, so it’s interesting to feel as if they are people, similarly to you. We all had nicknames growing up, so it’s only fitting to see players’ nicknames above the numbers on their jerseys.
Besides, we’ve seen how well different jerseys sell. The Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL are all too familiar with this, sporting a variety of different jerseys, including the Gettysburg Address sweaters. It’s gained them national press, striving to be different than other teams in their league.
But, there are limitations. I imagine if they were to allow whatever the player wanted on the back of their jerseys, we’d see a lot of “dangle, snipe, celly” on their backs.
Even if we didn’t, the novelty would wear off fast. Pretty soon, we’d get sick of the nicknames, just as we (somewhat) are with the players’ last names. Then, it would be totally unorthodox to have the last names on the jerseys.
I could definitely go for seeing Hallsy, Ebs, and Hoppy on their respective jerseys. If they are going to go through with it, however, they have to be a lot more lenient. If the names are valid nicknames that everyone calls the player (like AK-47), then they should be allowed.
At the end of the day, though, I would only be able to view it as a money grab, where the league would exercise all ideas and options just to take a few more dollars from their fans.
I suppose if you’re really adamant, you could just get it done yourself. But, if you have the nickname “noodles” on the back of your jersey that supports journeyman goaltender Jamie McLennan, you might get a few double takes.