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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

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.
Sep 23rd 2012, 10:00 AM 1,443 1

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:

So, is there anyone we’ve missed?

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Steven O'Rourke


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