Wikipedia:Naming conventions (sportspeople)

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As with any other biographical article, the name of an article about a sportsperson (or other type of notable gamester, such as a professional poker or chess player) should be the most commonly used name of the person. That is, it should be the name that is most generally recognizable. Normally this is simply the first and last name of the person (e.g. Tony Gabriel), but may also be a nickname if that is how the person is best known professionally (e.g. Sonny Homer). If the person is best known with a middle name or abbreviation, then the title should reflect that (e.g. J. C. Watts, Darrell K. Smith, Arland Bruce III). Disambiguation of sportsperson article titles should follow the general conventions as much as possible, just like any other Wikipedia article.


If the name is shared by another article, e.g. a chemist or actor, then a disambiguation (or "dab") is necessary, via the addition of a qualifier between bracketing parentheses. The qualifier should be as simple and general as possible while still being descriptive and not being ambiguous with another article (see Wikipedia:Disambiguation#Naming the specific topic articles).

It is strongly discouraged to add a middle name, initial, "Jr.", etc., or to use the birth name rather than the nickname (or vice-versa), merely for disambiguation purposes. If this format of the name is not the one most commonly used to refer to this person, that simply makes it more difficult for readers to find the article.

The disambiguation used varies between sports, but should either describe the persons role within the sport ("bowler", "cyclist", "acrobat", "chess player", "martial artist", etc.) or the sport itself ("basketball", "baseball", "tennis" etc). The style used should be consistent within each sport. Avoid obscure or jargonistic terms, such as "pugilist", "karateka" and "billiardist". Also avoid gender-specific language, such as "sportsman", "aviatrix", "female backgammon player" and "men's basketball player".

In most cases, use the sport as a simple noun when it is a separate word, e.g. "(golf coach)" not "(golfing coach)". The exception is when the verb form is the most commonly used in compounds: curling, bowling, rowing, ice skating, but not golfing, skiing or darting.

For sports usually or always referred to in the plural (darts, billiards, bowls, etc.), use the plural form in disambiguations; i.e., use "(darts trainer)" not "(dart trainer)".

Disambiguations should never refer to accomplishments – "(world champion figure skater)", "(top-16 bowler)", "(Olympic swimmer)", "(Heisman Trophy winner)" – since many if not most readers are probably seeking this information, it is over-specific, and an overemphasis of a particular accomplishment may constitute a non-neutral point of view. Worse yet is using titles or phrasing that imply praise or grandeur, e.g. "(kung fu master)", "(rugby star)".

Media figures should not be given overly-specific disambiguators unless necessary. The very general terms "sportscaster" (North America) and "sport broadcaster" (elsewhere) can be used for anyone playing such a role in television and/or radio, and "sport[s] journalist" can be used even more generally. When a more specific disambiguation is needed (between two sportscasters or sports journalists with the same name), there are many terms, with various meanings, some of which are specific to the variety of English (in particular, Commonwealth English often drops the final -s from "sports" in some but not all of these constructions).

For sportspeople genuinely notable as players in multiple sports, the article should be at the disambiguator "(sportsperson)", with redirects from any more-specific disambiguations that readers could reasonably expect, e.g. "(golfer)", "(footballer)", etc. Figures strongly notable in one field and only marginally notable in one or more others should be disambiguated under the first field, with a redirect created from a title referring to the other(s). I.e., do not use "(sportsperson)" for a world-champion lacrosse player who has also dabbled in semi-pro jai alai and tournament Scrabble.

It is neither necessary nor desirable to distinguish between amateur and professional levels, as in "(college basketball player)" or "(pro poker player)", although amateur designations like "amateur", "college", "minor league", etc., could possibly be used in the unlikely event of two players with the same name from the same place in the same sport but with different professional statuses.

The "sport named for a country" problem[edit]

One frequent complication to the normal disambiguation of human names is the large number of sports named for their countries of origin.

It is not desirable to use disambiguators like "(Canadian football player)" for players of Canadian football, for example. It is unclear if the adjective ("Canadian") refers to the game or to the nationality of the player – there are numerous non-Canadian-national players of Canadian football, and the general naming convention for people clearly calls for such a construction to imply the former. A disambiguation that introduces another ambiguity is of no value to our readers. In the case of an example like this one, it is also problematic because players frequently play more than one code of football. Even if the subject were a Canadian-citizen player of Canadian football, rendering the ambiguity moot, such a disambiguation suggests that this is a naming convention for players of Canadian football generally, and thus is likely to confuse readers and editors alike as to the names of other disambiguated articles on players of the sport.

The disambiguator "(gridiron player)" can be used for a player who has played two or more codes of gridiron football, most commonly American and Canadian, and is notable for play in more than one league, but the other football player(s) who share the same name play soccer or rugby.

When possible, avoid the "(player of country sport)" format, e.g. "(player of English billiards)", as this makes the disambiguation long-winded, but do use it when necessary.

Sport-specific examples[edit]

Some sports require the use of special disambiguations, either because the WikiProject requested it or by necessity. These special cases are as follows.

Association football (soccer)[edit]

  1. When there are multiple people with the same name, and one of them is a footballer:
    a. If the person is neither American nor Canadian, use (footballer)
    b. If the person is American or Canadian, use (soccer)
  2. If there are multiple footballers with the same name, use the most conclusive of the following steps:
    a. If the footballers have different nationalities, use their nationality in the disambiguation.
    b. If the footballers were born in different years, use the year they were born.


  1. In situations where two baseball personalities have the same name, but different occupations, disambiguate using the occupation. Examples: Mike Smith (manager) and Mike Smith (catcher)
  2. If there are two baseball personalities who were predominantly associated with different leagues (not including the modern American and National Leagues of Major League Baseball), then the league name can be used to disambiguate. Examples: John Smith (Negro Leagues baseball player) and John Smith (Major League Baseball player).
  3. Where disambiguation is necessary between two (or more) baseball players who play different positions, the position should be added to the article name. Examples: Ramón Martínez (pitcher) and Ramón Martínez (infielder).
    • Note: When two pitchers share the same name, but one was a left-hander and the other was a right-hander, then this may be used to disambiguate. Example: John Smith (left-handed pitcher)] and John Smith (right-handed pitcher).
  4. Where the previous steps are insufficient and further disambiguation is necessary between two (or more) baseball players who play the same positions, it should be achieved using the most conclusive of the three steps below:
    • When two retired players' careers did not overlap and each player predominantly played in a single decade, then use that to differentiate between them. Examples: John Smith (1930s outfielder) and John Smith (1960s outfielder)
    • When two retired players spent the majority of their careers with one team, then the team name may be used. Make sure that Player A never played for the team used in Player B's article title and vice versa. Use the full name of the team. Examples: John Smith (Houston Astros outfielder) and John Smith (Philadelphia Phillies outfielder)
    • If and only if team and decade are still insufficient, then use the players' years of birth. Examples: John Smith (baseball outfielder, born 1943) and John Smith (baseball outfielder, born 1950)

Cue sports[edit]

Among players of cue sports (billiards-family games), snooker and pocket billiards (pool) players (regardless of any specialization) are disambiguated with "(snooker player)" and "(pool player)", respectively. All others are disambiguated with "(billiards player)". In cases of overlap (e.g., a player notable for both snooker and pool, or carom billiards and pool, or snooker and English billiards), use "(billiards player)".

More topically-specific disambiguations – "(three-cushion billiards player)", "(eight-ball pool player)", etc. – are rarely needed or helpful, since players of one discipline almost always play in some others as well.

Gridiron football[edit]

  1. When there are two or more people who have the same name and one of them played gridiron football:
    a. If he played only one code of gridiron football, such as American football or Canadian football, use the name of that code. Example: Anthony Parker (American football)
    b. If he played multiple codes of football professionally, use (gridiron football). Example: Jonathan Brown (gridiron football)
  2. In situations where there are two or more people who played gridiron football but they played different positions, use the name of the position they played. Example: James Harris (defensive end) and James Harris (quarterback)
  3. If two or more gridiron football players played the same position, but did not have overlapping careers, use the dominate decade to describe the person along with their position. Example: Bob Reynolds (1960s offensive tackle) and Bob Reynolds (1930s offensive tackle)
  4. If two or more people played the same position and their careers overlap:
    a. If all players played all/most of their career with one team, use the team name as disambiguation. Example: Steve Smith (New York Giants) and Steve Smith (Carolina Panthers)
    b. if not, use the year of birth as disambiguation. Example: Aaron Taylor (American football, born 1975) and Aaron Taylor (American football, born 1972)

Ice hockey[edit]

The normal disambiguation for ice hockey players is (ice hockey), instead of (hockey), (hockey player), or even (ice hockey player). In situations where two or more people involved with hockey have the same name, players are disambiguated by birthdate (e.g. Bob Johnson (ice hockey, born 1931)). Note that Wikipedia no longer endorses abbreviating born with a "b.". Ice hockey people are not disambiguated by position due to the nature of the game where players often play more than one position or hold more than one job (e.g. player and coach) in the sport. In situations where two players are born in the same year with the same name alternative measures such as using middle names or the main position they played may be considered. Generations are generally not used (1930s ice hockey) due to the POV nature of such disambiguation and careers spanning more than one decade.

See also[edit]