I know, I know — sports is a huge topic. So huge that one could come up with dozens of names for just about any sport that’s ever existed.
But I thought taking a general approach would be more fun than focusing on a specific sport, so here are notable names culled from a range of sports:
- Canadian-born sports coach James Naismith invented basketball in Springfield, Massachusetts in late 1891.
- American athlete James “Jesse” Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.
- American athlete James “Jim” Thorpe was named the greatest athlete of the first half of the 20th century by the Associated Press in 1950.
- American football player James “Jim” Brown was named the greatest professional football player ever by The Sporting News in 2002.
Mildred and Charlotte
American athlete Mildred “Babe” Didrikson and English athlete Charlotte “Lottie” Dod were named the most versatile female athletes of all time by The Guinness Book of Records.
American baseball player George “Babe” Ruth is widely regarded as the greatest baseball player of all time.
American swimmer Gertrude Ederle was the first woman to swim across the English Channel, in 1926.
English athlete Roger Bannister was the first man to run a mile in fewer than four minutes, in 1954.
American tennis player Althea Gibson was the first African-American woman to win a Grand Slam title, in 1956.
Brazilian soccer player Edison Arantes do Nascimento, also known as Pelé, is widely regarded as the best soccer player of all time.
- American baseball player Jack “Jackie” Robinson was the first African-American to play Major League Baseball, in 1947. He was also the first African American inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame, in 1962.
- American golfer Jack Nicklaus is regarded by some as the greatest professional golfer of all time.
American baseball player Sanford “Sandy” Koufax is the youngest person to have been inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame, in 1972.
American boxer Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Clay) was a three-time World Heavyweight Champion.
American speedskater Bonnie Blair is one of the most decorated athletes in Olympic history.
Canadian hockey player Wayne Gretzky is regarded by some as the greatest professional hockey player of all time.
American basketball player Michael Jordan is widely regarded as the best basketball player of all time.
And now, two questions:
- What other sports-inspired names can you come up with?
- What other interests or activities should we namestorm about next?
Sources: Smithsonian Institution, Top North American Athletes of the Century