If Derek Jeter was diagnosed with ALS would it be morally reprehensible to rename it Derek Jeter disease?
Most people know that the disease Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The reason for this is simple. Lou Gehrig was the most famous person to get the disease. So it would seem that they shortened it to simplify conversations.
1: Hey, did you hear that Tim was diagnosed with ALS?
2: That’s… terrible?
1: Lou Gehrig’s disease
2: Oh, yeah, that’s horrible what can we do to help?
See how much easier that conversation was. The message was received loud and clear through the shorthand use of a popular baseball player who was struck down by the terrible disease. Perhaps if AIDS wasn’t so well publicized, we would all just call it Magic Johnson disease. Although, it might not have the same effect, people might think that Magic Johnson disease’s symptoms are acute business savvy and charm. However, the fact remains that efficient communication is probably the reason why ALS is known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, but perhaps this won’t always be the case.
As the years pass by and Lou Gehrig fades farther and farther into history and away from our thoughts. Perhaps, in the future Lou Gehrig will not be the efficient solution that it once was. Even I, a devout Yankees fan who has seen Pride of the Yankees (The Lou Gehrig biopic) over 20 times, had to Google the correct spelling of his name. My future children’s friends might have no idea who this guy was. Cal Ripken beat his consecutive games record and Derek Jeter surpassed him on the all-time Yankees hits list. His name could fade from the public lexicon. Just look at Sir Isaac Newton. He was one of the greatest mathematicians of all time, but he’s now known best for getting hit with apples and making cookies, I’m sorry fruit and cake. It’s conceivable that somewhere there is a child that thinks that Newton discovered gravity when his friend William Tell shot an arrow into an apple over his head during a battle with the Keebler elves. I mean, it’s a long shot, but it’s more likely than them knowing one of his formulas. Here’s what an ALS conversation might sound like in 10 years.
1: Did you hear Tim was diagnosed with ALS?
2: That’s… terrible?
1: Lou Gehrig’s disease.
1: Lou Gehrig. He used to play for the Yankees. He held the consecutive games record for over 50 years.
2: Oh, I don’t watch sports. So, Tim sprained his ankle then? I’ve never heard of this guy.
1: No, it’s a debilitating disease with varied etiology characterized by rapidly progressive weakness, muscle atrophy and fasciculations, muscle spasticity, difficulty speaking (dysarthria), difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), and difficulty breathing (dyspnea). According to Wikipedia anyway.
2: Oh my god, that is horrible. What can we do to help and who is this Gehrig guy?
So, the question stands if Derek Jeter, whose name and face are present in the zeitgeist, were to be diagnosed with ALS would it be morally reprehensible to start calling the disease, Derek Jeter’s disease? It might have more impact and maybe the man with the most hits should get dibs on disease names? It’s just a thought.
The answer of course is yes and to be honest this whole entry is on unstable moral ground, but it was a thought I had. You deal with it.
Oh, and see Pride of the Yankees. It’s Gary Cooper’s greatest work and Lou Gehrig was a national treasure.