The sports world has been more or less canceled for over a month now, and for those of us who are into sports, well, we miss sports.
Over at the Rough Draft, we have been trying to keep track of some of the things people are doing to stay competitive, from marble racing, to soda bottle rocketing, to bread, and one thing we have learned is if you squint hard enough, anything can be a sport.
A fun spring diversion in years past, the latest thing to become A SPORT this COVID-19 lockdown season—at least according to me—is the annual Name of the Year contest. Once hosted by Deadspin (RIP), former Deadpsin staffers brought the bracket-based nomenclature battle back for 2020, in part because of tradition, but mostly because we need it in the worst kind of way.
The Name of the Year contest kicked off on Tuesday—see the full bracket here—and this first Someone Do a Sport entry takes a look at this year’s competitors and unveils the first-ever NotY Power Rankings.
Name of the Year: A Sport
The Name of the Year contest started in a college dorm room back in the early 1980s, and in 2014, the contest drew wider appeal when it moved to the website formerly known as deadspin dot com (as we’ll learn, I refuse to link to the current incarnation of the website). During the six years readers voted on their favorite names, winners included luminaries such as Pope Thrower, Jimbob Ghostkeeper, Boats Botes, and Shamus Beaglehole.
Now wait, you might be saying. Like Zwift racing weights, I bet those names are fake, or my name isn’t Albertus B. Kwerky.
Entrants in the original Name of the Year contest were originally drawn from the sports world, but since then, it has branched out into names in the news that those behind the contest were able to verify. As this year’s intro page points out with the case of Gimadiah Scrogum, the police blotter is probably the most likely source of many of the entries.
The 2020 contest comes on the heels of what proved to be a 2019 barnburner, with a bracket of double-digit seeds making the Final Four, reminiscent of the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Number 11 Pope Thrower faced off against #13 Storm Duck, while the sole remaining #1 Jizyah Shorts took on #8 Chastity Gooch-Fant.
Coming into the finals, Jizyah was an utter juggernaut, winning her matchups by an average of a net 66 points. The 73-27 thrashing Shorts delivered to Gooch-Fant in the national semifinals represented the #1 seed’s closest matchup to that point. Heading into the final round against Pope Thrower, Jizyah Shorts seemed like a sure thing.
As we have seen with Mathieu van der Poel at Cyclocross Worlds, however, that is why they play the sports, or so they say. In an upset reminiscent of the 1983 NC State shocker over the Phi Slama Jama Houston Cougars, Thrower took the win and the crown as the 2019 Name of the Year.
Since that epic showdown in a corner of the internet largely frequented by those of us whiling away time at work a lot has changed. The once great Deadspin blog is a zombie-like apparition of its former self after Jim Spanfeller fired Barry Petchesky for not “sticking to sports,” and the entire staff subsequently resigned in protest last fall.
Name of the Year might not have been “sticking to sports” back then, but now, in our new sports-less world, it is a sport. I mean, if bread is a sport, a bracket of names is definitely a sport.
The 2020 Name of the Year contest is being run through online voting via the Twitter handle @NOTYtourney. The bracket was unveiled on Tuesday, and the first round of voting wrapped up on Thursday morning.
Similar to the NCAA Tournament, it is tough to say if a given year’s bracket will be particularly memorable. Taking home #1 seeds in 2020 are Mathdaniel Squirrel, Infinite Culcleasure, Bluebell Eikonoklastes, and Beanbag Amerika, if you are looking to read the tea leaves of what the voting has in store.
The NCAA Tournament is known for its 12 over 5 upsets in the first round, but in this year’s NotY contest, it looks like both the 5-12 and 3-14 are proving tough for the favorites. Twelve seed Gravity Goldberg took the win over Ikea Perrier and 12 seed Zebulon Vermillion rolled over Dr. Floun’say Caver, and 14 seeds Courvoisier Dingle and Waffles Natusch also pulled off first-round shockers.
One of the best parts of the Name of the Year contest is it is an interactive sport, like fantasy football. Except in this case, talking about the NotY contest is hilarious and not infinitely annoying. Honestly, no one cares about your fantasy football team. I do, however, want to know who you’re stanning in this year’s NotY bracket.
Voting for the second round is now open, if you want to play along.
Name of the Year Power Rankings
Since the Name of the Year contest is kinda like something akin to a sport, it only makes sense that we unveil the first-ever NotY power rankings after the first round. Although I was unable to get my hands on the vaunted CX Heat Check algorithm, I did napkin scratch together my own that takes into account margin of victory, seeding, and an upset premium to come up with this week’s rankings.
So without the proverbial further ado, here … we … go:
10. Courvoisier Dingle
The true Heat Check entry in these Power Rankings, Dingle probably should have been seeded higher, but as a 14 seed, they scored a big 61-39 upset over Carmelo Mustaccio to earn the 10th spot on this week’s Heat Check. Up next is a tough battle against 6 seed Billyjack Buzzard.
9. Bluebell Eikonoklastes
A political candidate from Leeds, England in real life, Eikonoklastes scored a number 1 seed and coasted to a relatively comfortable 74-26 win in the first round over Derrek Gunfelder-McCrank. With a showdown against Chadfield Clapsaddle, who won over Smoki Bacon, Eikonoklastes has the vibe of one of those mid-major number ones who need to prove they can make the Sweet Sixteen to be taken seriously.
8. Kokain Mothershed
Seemingly underseeded at the 4 line, Mothershed responded by taking Destiny Guns out behind the woodshed with a 70-30 shellacking in the first round. Up next is a showdown against another of the Power Rankings Heat Checkers in upset-minded Zebulon Vermillion.
7. Fatjon Cake
Coming in as a 3 seed, Cake went the distance in the first round, delivering an impressive 74-26 knockout of Helga Radio. With 1990s nostalgia at a fever pitch thanks to the excellent The Last Dance documentary, Cake may find himself devoured by Rayne Schwinghammer in the second round.
6. Zebulon Vermillion
The 12 spot is known for producing first-round upsets, and Vermillion pulled off the feat in style with a very nice 69% percent of the vote. Keeping the streak going will be a challenge, with a matchup against the cream of the crop, Kokain Mothershed, in the second round.
5. Mathdaniel Squirrel
I originally typo’d this one as “Methdaniel,” but Mathdaniel will do just fine. Also, Squirrel! With goofy first and last names, a number 1 seed, Squirrel! and an impressive 77% of the vote in the first round, Mathdaniel seems poised Squirrel! for a deep run this year.
4. Dr. Reason Machete
The doctor is in … to the second round, as 2 seed Machete chopped up Kizer Pontoon in overwhelming fashion. A professor at the University of Nottingham, it would have been more poetic if Machete was robbing from the rich (top seeds) and giving to the poor (the hapless 16 seeds), but number 4 on the Power Rankings will have to do.
3. Rod McQuality
As Pope Thrower showed last year, sometimes it isn’t the complex names that carry the day in the NotY contest. A simple man with a simple name, McQuality provided quantity as well as quality in the first round by taking home a smashing 4/5 of the vote over Silkie Carlo. Up next for the 2 seed is a showdown against Perfecto Cuervo.
2. Decoldest Crawford
The top two spots in the round one power rankings go to the two contestants who racked over over 80% of the vote in their respective matchups. Decoldest Crawford was anything but chilly in putting the freezer burn on our Dutch entry Glee van Loon. Keeping it Euro, up next for Crawford is a showdown against likely Belgian (?) Rembertus Beerepoot in the second round.
1. Beanbag Amerika
It probably should not have been a surprise, but your number one entry in the first-ever NotY Power Rankings is Beanbag America. Winning by an impressive 66%, Amerika entered on the consensus number 1 overall seed and performed accordingly in the first round. If there is anyone in this field poised to pull off a run like the one Jizyah Shorts had in 2019, it seems like it is likely Beanbag Amerika.