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What's in a name? Nominative determinism in sport

There are those who believe that a person’s name has an influence over what they do in life. That may well be true for these sport stars.

Usain Bolt was destined to be a sprinter, or a meteorologist.
Usain Bolt was destined to be a sprinter, or a meteorologist.
Image: ERIC LALMAND/Belga/Press Association Images

IF YOU THINK nominative determinism – the idea that a person will take up the profession or lifestyle described by their name – is bogus, you’re probably right.

However, it is a thought that has crossed the mind of some of the world’s brightest and best.

Indeed, no less an authority than Carl Jung asked in his classic paper “Synchronicity – An Acausal Connecting Principle” – and who doesn’t have a copy of that on their bookshelves – if there might be something in it. Noting that, for example, Herr Feist (Mr. Stout) was the minister for food, he asked:

“Are these the whimsicalities of chance, or the suggestive effects of the name, as Stekel seems to suggest, or are they ‘meaningful coincidences’?”

Jung, as with many psychologists, never answered his own question, but when you consider that Daniel Snowman wrote a book about the polar regions and Amy Freeze grew up to be a meteorologist in New York, you being to wonder.

Sport too has its fair share of nominative determinism and here are some of our favourites:

What's in a name? Nominative determinism in sport
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  • Nominative Determinism

    ERIC LALMAND/Belga/Press Association Images
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    Paul Sancya/AP/Press Association Images
  • Nominative Determinism

    Petr David Josek/AP/Press Association Images
  • Nominative Determinism

    Mike McCarn/AP/Press Association Images
  • Nominative Determinism

    ROB GRIFFITH/AP/Press Association Images
  • Nominative Determinism

    Luca Bruno/AP/Press Association Images
  • Nominative Determinism

    Matthew Ashton/EMPICS Sport
  • Nominative Determinism

    Michel Spingler/AP/Press Association Images
  • Nominative Determinism

    ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

So, is there anyone we’ve missed?

Rooney will be back soon, says Fergie

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About the author:

Steven O'Rourke

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