The Jakes and Jacobs of the world have teamed up and are playing football for the University of Washington. Well, maybe not all of the Jakes and Jacobs, but several have made the team’s roster.
The Huskies currently have four quarterbacks named Jake or Jacob. And if that doesn’t make things confusing enough, two more Jacobs – a linebacker and a tight end – are suiting up for the purple and gold as well.
NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro spoke with the Wall Street Journal’s Jacob Gershman, who recently wrote an article about the name’s popularity, in which he asks, “How bad is the Jacob glut?”
“They had this issue coming into the season – you know, ‘If we want to be able to communicate with everybody on the team without causing confusion, we can’t have everybody named Jake or Jacob,’” Gershman said.
The four quarterbacks worked it out among themselves to only allow one person to go by Jake, and that was senior Jake Browning.
“And the others had to go with either their last name or a shortened version of their last name. And I think, you know, I think they’re all fine with it,” Gershman said.
Jacob was the number one name given to boys from 1999 to 2012, according to the Social Security Administration. That’s 13 years of Jacobs and Jakes.
The prevalence of the name may not be completely linked to its biblical namesake Jacob — patriarch of the 12 tribes of Israel.
In Gershman’s article, Cleveland Evans, a Bellevue University psychology professor and author of The Great Big Book of Baby Names, cites 1970s movies such as Big Jake and Chinatown as likely factors in the uptick of babies named Jacob.
Now that many of them are entering college, the workforce and even dating apps, Gershman said the general public seems to be taking notice of the surge.
“They’d say, ‘Oh god, there’s so many Jakes, it’s just, you know, why are there so many Jakes, Jacobs on Tinder,” Gershman said.
Though Jacob has enjoyed a long run as a top baby name, Gershman said that in the future, it might be tough for any particular name to reach the same type of popularity.
“There are fewer names that are common,” Gershman said. “There’s more diversity. Parents are just more aggressively looking for something different. So if you’re number one, it kind of puts a target on your back.”
With a dwindling number of Jacobs now entering the world – it was replaced by Noah in 2013 an Liam is currently at the top — Gershman said all of the Jacobs need to stick together.
“You can either look at them as rivals or, you know … join together and advocate for our Jacob rights,” Gershman joked. “I think the more the merrier.”
Sarah Handel and Viet Le produced and edited this story for broadcast. Cameron Jenkins adapted it for the Web.