For the first 25 years of my working career, I was a sports journalist. Yep, I got paid for watching sports.

I had the privilege of working on sports desks for newspapers throughout Australia and the United Kingdom, covering everything from local sports competitions to World Cups and Olympic Games.

I rubbed shoulders with some of the world’s best sports men and women and worked alongside some incredibly gifted sports writers and editors. I loved it. 

From “Shark” to “Tiger”

I found that a synonymous trend in the “world of sport” was that everyone—the players and quite often the sportswriters—seemed to have a nickname. It kind of went with the territory.

Some nicknames were coined for headline purposes only—for example, golfer Greg Norman was “The Shark,” sprinter Usain Bolt was known as “Lightning” and Muhammad Ali was “The Greatest.” 

“How can I forget Barry the ‘Blister,’ who only appeared when all the “ hard work was done?” DEAN SIMPSON

Some sports stars received nicknames that stuck, whether they liked it or not, and they were better known by this name in public life. Tennis legend Rod Laver was “Rocket,” Australian cricketer Ellyse Perry was “Pez” and probably the most famous of them all is Eldrick Tont Woods ... universally known as “Tiger.”

Newsroom Names

Nicknames in the newspaper sports office, however, went to another level from a comedic point of view and were often based on a person’s personality or performance—when the pressure of a deadline was at its most intense.

Some of the best news-desk nicknames I came across were: “Wheelbarrow” Wayne, who only worked when he was pushed; “Sensor Light” Larry, who only seemed to operate when someone walked past; “Noodles” Noel, who seemed to take only two minutes to complete any job; and poor old “Deck Chair” Charlie, who always folded under pressure. 

And how can I forget Barry the “Blister,” who only appeared when all the hard work was done?

Name Above All Names

All of these nicknames, whether sporting icons or work colleagues, revealed a little about who they were, what they’d achieved or how others perceived them.

Nothing, however, comes close to the “nicknames” associated with God. Yes, God has nicknames! In fact, about 950 names and titles are attributed to Him in the Bible. Now that’s a lot of names!

All His names—from His personal name, Yahweh, to the ones that describe His actions and character—reveal who He is. From “Abba Father” and “Ancient of Days” right through to “Jehovah,” “El Shaddai” and “Adonai,” describing the character of God is an almost endless list of superlatives—omnipotent, deliverer, marvelous, faithful, faultless ... Lord of Lords, King of Kings, Saviour.

I once tried to underline, in red pen, all the names of God I could find in my Bible. Needless to say, my pen nearly ran out of ink! But what a wonderful exercise it was. The simple act of hunting for the myriad names attributed to the Lord Almighty in the Bible built a solid image in my mind of the heart and character of God that has stayed with me over the years.

Ultimately, He is the Name Above All Names.

Dean Simpson is part of the communications team for The Salvation Army in Australia.

Reprinted from Others, December 2022

Photo: Neely Wang/

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