“Today Show” To Feature 3-Year-Old ESPN Real

If you hadn’t been paying attention to blogs back in 2006 and found out that there was an “ESPN Real” that was three years old, you’d probably think something like “well of course I haven’t heard of that before, a sports reality channel would suck pretty badly” or “how come Real Madrid gets their own ESPN thing for three straight seasons?” If we told you that was actually a toddler’s name, to be pronounced “Es-pen,” you’d probably think “well, that’s clearly not happening above the Mason-Dixon line.”

ESPN Real Sr. and Jr.
(ESPN and ESPN2)

Unfortunately for one toddler, though, he really is named ESPN Real - ESPN Montana Real Jr., as it turns out. Yes, “Junior”; that’s because his father’s name is also ESPN Real, and you can only be surprised about that if you’ve never heard of the Deep South.

From the BILOXI SUN-HERALD:

A South Mississippi toddler named ESPN will be featured on NBC’s “Today” show later this month in a segment about unusual names.

His parents, Rusty and LeaAnn Real, became the target of several mean-spirited bloggers after ESPN’s birth at Biloxi Regional Medical Center, Oct. 2, 2006.

Outdone by critic’s not-so-nice comments, Rusty Real legally changed his name a year later to ESPN Myron Russell Real Sr., using his given names as his middle names.

One moment, everyone; Rudy Ray has a couple questions about this situation:

How and why? Well, the “how” is obviously a mix of paperwork and idiocy. The why is simple: blame the ladies.

After four girls — Tabitha, Tiffany, Emily and Meagan — LeaAnn Real promised her husband if she ever had a son, he could name him.

“She shouldn’t have left the door open,” ESPN Real said.

He had talked about doing it for years, but his wife didn’t take him seriously. “Whatever you say, honey,” she’d tell him.

It’s okay to like ESPN, of course, and Real would hardly be the first person in the history of the world to name their kid after something sports-related. But this is a little beyond the pale, especially considering that all ESPN do is broadcast the sports. Why not call your kid “Sport”? Or “Montana”? Or anything that wouldn’t actively embarrass him?

Parents these days, we swear. They get all swept up in children as an idea that they end up trying to brand them with a name instead of just giving them a name and letting them be their own people. If you name a kid “ESPN,” his fate is pretty much set, and odds are he’s not going to grow up to like it.