Lance Armstrong is trying to win an unbelievable seventh straight Tour de France, maybe the toughest bicycle race in the world.
I don't know much about cycling, but I think the Tour is cool because it lasts more than three weeks and the riders race all over France. Even though I am not a bike racing fan, I do know one thing: Lance Armstrong has a really cool name.
Say it out loud: Lance Armstrong. It sounds like the name of an astronaut or a comic book superhero. And it's perfect for the guy you see in all those cycling ads standing with his arms crossed and looking like he's carved out of rock.
Lance Armstrong. I mean, it wouldn't be the same if his name were Engelbert Humperdinck, would it? (Yes, that's a real name.)
Some sports names just fit. For instance, Tiger Woods -- even though "Tiger" isn't the golf pro's actual name. But ads encouraging you to "Be a Tiger" wouldn't work if they used his real name, Eldrick. Be an Eldrick? Come on! Tiger's cool. Eldrick is . . . well, Eldrick is not as cool as Tiger.
Some full names sound better than nicknames. Years ago, folks wanted to "Be Like Mike" even though no one called the Chicago hoops star "Mike Jordan." He was always "Michael Jordan." It just sounded better. It's the same with Michael Vick, the Atlanta Falcons' fabulous quarterback.
But sometimes nicknames are the way to go. Coco Crisp can thank his grandmother for his cereal-like nickname. The Cleveland outfielder's real first name is Covelli. Samuel P. Sosa could be a banker. Sammy Sosa, on the other hand, is a big league name.
There are lots of cool sports names. Tony Hawk is right on for a high-flying skateboard whiz, just as Venus Williams is a perfect name for a tennis goddess. Picabo Street, named for a town in her home state of Idaho, made other skiers want to go hide on the slopes.
Is there a better name for a football wide receiver than Peerless Price, or Derek Lowe for a sinkerball pitcher?
If the name doesn't sound right, an athlete can change it. Ju-Yun Kim wanted to separate herself from the five other Kims on the women's pro golf tour. So she changed her first name to "Birdie," which in golf means a good score (1 under par) on a hole. The new name brought good luck. She won the U.S. Women's Open last month on the last hole . . . with a birdie.
Lance Armstrong won't have to change his name to win another Tour de France. He already has the perfect name for a sports hero.
Frederick (You Can Call Me "Fred") Bowen writes KidsPost's sports column and is the author of sports novels for kids.