Not in our wildest dreams did we ever think our little sophomoric pastime (literally; we were sophomores) would prompt worldwide attention. But it has.
We've talked about NOTY on the radio in Australia. We were supposed to talk about it on the radio in Ireland, but we never made it happen. We've made the New York Times (digitally) and the Chicago Tribune (dead tree). In the university of the sports blogosphere, we are adjunct faculty. If the media economy weren't in a state, we're sure we'd have been acquired by now.
The crowning of Barkevious Mingo as the 2009 NOTY has been a media sensation. The Steampunk Empereor was worthy of a column item in the New Zealand Herald in the great city of Auckland (they love us Down Under). The name-obsessed Freakonomics guys dutifully followed up on their Times blog. Our new friend Caleb Hannan at the Nashville Scene kindly offered "kudos to the anonymous Ivy League Politburo [that's us] for once again providing the world with 10-15 minutes of pleasant distraction."
World, you're welcome.
Hosannas are nice, but as recovering newspapermen (well, as one recovering newspaperman; sometimes the first-person plural doesn't work), nothing has warmed our hearts this NOTY season quite like two stories, one each from the bases of our finalists. The Kalamazoo Gazette -- "Best Local Connection" in Iris Macadangdang's hometown -- treated the NOTY final like a high-school basketball game covered pyramid-style by the AP:
After defeating such worthy opponents as Velvet Milkman and Dr. Shasta Kielbasa, former Kalamazoo-area resident Iris Macadangdang lost Tuesday to No. 4 seed Barkevious Mingo in the 2009 Name of the Year contest.
Mingo, a Louisiana native, took 34 states and 54 percent of the more than 10,000 online votes to beat No. 1 seed and 2004 Comstock High School graduate Macadangdang.
First started in the 1980s in an Ivy League dorm room to highlight unique names of professional athletes, the Name of the Year contest is now hosted on a blog...
Let's write the headline, shall we? Area Woman Runner Up in Name of Year Contest. Because you have to love Area Man and Area Woman, staples of fine local journalism since 1887. (That wasn't the actual headline, which is even straighter.) The paper, to its journalistic credit, did track down Iris, and dutifully reports her age (23) and majors at Michigan (poli sci and Spanish) and the fact that she was the victim of the occasional onomastic jibe as a child (who wasn't?).
"I didn't think that my name was that out of the ordinary,'' she said. "I was definitely surprised to be nominated."
Which brings us to the student journalists at LSU, future home of the Steampunk Emperor. David Helman of The Daily Reveille wrote perhaps the most excellent game-story cum man-on-the-street story we have ever read. Not only did David interview Spencer Hall aka Orson Swindle (actual human, in case you were unaware), he pounded the pavement, from the football field to the drama department, assembling reaction to Mingo's triumph. Sweetheart, get me copy.
"First of all, that’s crazy," said Kelvin Sheppard, LSU junior linebacker. "That’s out of all the crazy names in America, and he finished first. That’s pretty cool."
"That’s pretty awesome, I’m not going to lie," said Lee Gresham, theatre freshman. "I have a feeling he’s going to be a fan favorite with LSU fans, because that’s pretty funny."
There's even a to-be-sure quote!
"It’s just his name," said Brittany Gay, graphic design freshman. "Why does that matter? Can he play good?"
Good, well, whatever. As long as there are reporters like David Helman, we're sure the future of journalism is in excellent hands.