In a momentous occasion for Asians in professional sports, South Korean Birdie Kim just won the U.S. Women’s Open.
However, in a low moment for Asians in professional sports, Ms. Kim — formerly known as Ju-Yun Kim — revealed in a post-tournament interview that she felt compelled to change her first name to Birdie so that others could distinguish her from the five other Korean players with the last name Kim.
I understand that golf is the mother of all racist sports, but it seems exceptionally sad, if true, that ‘western’ golfers and golf fans are unable to remember her name unless it is synonymous with the extension of one’s middle finger.
Of course, I’m disappointed with Birdie for abandoning her beautiful Korean first name.
Birdie, if you’re going to change your name to a ‘Tiger’-like Anglo one, why not choose “Eagle” instead? Or “Albatross”? Have I impressed you with my knowledge of golf terminology?
No matter, this sets a bad precedent for Asian-named professional athletes like myself.
Oh wait, sorrry, I’m not Asian.
But as for the remaining Asian sports superstars, surely Ichiro Suzuki feels pressure now to change his name to Four-Bagger Suzuki in order to distinguish himself from all the motorcycles named Suzuki.
Hideo Nomo will then follow suit and crown himself No-Hitter Nomo, which is ironic since Hideo is a Japanese word meaning “bases loaded.”
And sweet Jesus of Nazareth or Buddha on a popsicle stick … what if Yao Ming changes his name to Slam Dunk Ming?
Or worse, Long Dunk Ming?
Keep it real, Asian athletes. Keep it real.