Stare long enough at a disparate set of data points and clusters emerge. If you’re an Ancient Mesopotamian, millions of scattered points of light in the sky become constellations. If you’re a bored, doodling mathematician named Stanislaw Ulam, cardinal numbers arrayed in a spiral reveal grouped patterns in the seemingly random occurrence of primes. Even if you’re a koala—hamstrung by a too-small brain, because you can’t muster the energy to sustain a larger one, because the only thing your body can digest for energy is literally toxic and will kill you if eat too much of it—pattern recognition helps you find your next meal.
So it should come as no surprise that great names, too, aren’t always distributed randomly. Fans of word games might notice a passel of onomastically blessed Scrabble players, from former Australian champion Russell Honeybun to Nigerian expert Quickpen Ben to Filipino youth player and just-vanquished Dragonwagon Regional No. 7 seed Learjet de la Cruz. Longtime readers of the Unnamed Temporary Sports Blog’s bloggers know that junior hockey players could fill a fifth quadrant in this competition. See 2018 Name of the Year Jimbob Ghostkeeper, Sithole Regional No. 6 seed Rayne Schwinghammer, or these entire annual lists.
International soccer may be the most fecund field of all. Even casual fans might have heard of Brazil’s Kaka and Dunga, England’s Steve McManaman, or Finland’s Teemu Pukki. And though remaining well-spaced is critical to high-level success on the pitch—social distancers, soccer was here first!—great names cluster in teams like 7-year-olds scrumming around the ball. In 2018, we wrote about the impressive roster of players assembled by England’s Oldham Athletic—two of whom, Zeus de la Paz and Duckens Nazon, were matched head-to-head in the Name of the Year Tournament. It wasn’t clear if the Latics were trying to win League Two or NOTY.
This past summer, our inbox overflowed. Reports filtered in from the Women’s World Cup of Australia’s Clare Polkinghorne, Cameroon’s Claudine Meffometou, and South Korea’s Mira Moon. At the African Cup of Nations, Zimbabwe fielded a roster including Elvis Chipezeze, Divine Lunga, Teenage Hadebe, and Aston Villa’s Marvelous Nakamba, and employed a brains-over-brawn strategy that saw them, at one point, bring on Knowledge Musona to replace Talent Chawapiwa. The “Barea” of Madagascar—which get their nickname from the island’s mass of roaming zebu—got a lot of ink during that tournament, perhaps because of their fairytale run to the quarterfinals or perhaps because it takes a lot of ink to write about Pascal Razakanantenaina, Njiva Rakotoharimalala, Carolus Adriamatsinoro, Lalaina Nomenjanahary, and Jean Dieu-Donné Randrianasolo. (Midfielder Andriamirado Aro Hasina Andrianarimanana, we were relieved to learn, prefers to be known simply as “Dax.”)
At the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the aforementioned Duckens Nazon scored for Haiti in a stunning win over Canada. But the true standouts of that tournament were Curaçao. With a lineup so strong that Zeus de la Paz was relegated to the bench (in favor of Eloy Room), the Nether-Islanders made a miraculous escape from the group stage thanks in part to Gevaro Nepomuceno, Elson Hooi, Jurich Carolina, Zingo Constansia, and Chrotchtangle Regional No. 5 seed Jimbertson Vapor.
We don’t know whether Vapor—grainy highlight reel here—is among Curacao’s preferred pen-takers, but he proved himself mightier than the sword of his first-round opponent, investigative journalist Zorro Maplestone. Who is Jimbertson? Offspring of two-time Super Bowl champion Jim Burt? Lovechild of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, who were—somewhere between Pickfair and Bennifer—known to certain Zeppelin shippers as Jimbert? We have no idea. His second-round opponent is 13-seed Chicagoland city planner Dudley Onderdonk, who upset the No. 4 seed, Wisconsin ecologist Dreux Watermolen.
Will Jimbertson advance, or will his candidacy disappear into thin air? Vote for all your second-round matchups @NOTYtourney.
Dan Wachtell is a Brooklyn-based lawyer, soccer player, home chef, board-game enthusiast, crossword constructor, father, and husband.
Where do we go to see each round of names? I can only find the original 64 bracket. Thank you.
April 24, 2020 — 11:45 am
Rhode Islander says:
The NOTY people are doing the whole thing on Twitter this year: https://twitter.com/NOTYtourney
Click on “Tweets & Replies” and look for the name of each division, then click “Show this thread” to vote.
April 24, 2020 — 1:05 pm
Garbanzo Ball says:
You really gonna snub Shamus Beaglehole like that?
April 24, 2020 — 12:35 pm
Dan Wachtell says:
In our (my) defense, if you’d asked me about Beaglehole – our 2014 champ, for those following along – I would’ve pegged him as a rugger. A bit of googling reveals that I may have confused him with Aussie Rules footballer Steele Sidebottom, the 2010 NOTY people’s champion. (Yes, I know, Aussie Rules isn’t rugby, but honestly, I can’t be bothered.)
I guess the bottom line is that if this pandemic goes on long enough, we may have to start having sport-specific NOTY brackets.
April 24, 2020 — 2:16 pm
Goodluck Jonathan says:
Best soccer name I can recall is a Brazilian player who played at Benfica in Portugal in the early 2000s.
His name…..Argelico Fucks.
April 24, 2020 — 12:58 pm
meals on wheels says:
Such a shame he chickened out of such a great name and played as Argel the entire career. Even now as a manager the media calls him Argel most of the time, which violates the unwritten rule of players who were known by only one name having to be called by first and last names when they transition to coaching jobs (Zico, also brazilian, is another exception to the rule).
April 24, 2020 — 2:23 pm
Dan Wachtell says:
And then there’s Luis Enrique, who confounds this rule in both directions; he’s referred to as a coach by the same name he was as a player, which isn’t his first name and last name, but a two-part mononym, as it were.
April 24, 2020 — 3:04 pm
As a lifelong Oldham Athletic fan it made my day to see them brought up to a global audience. Duckens is no longer at the club but Zeus is still with us letting in plenty of goals.
April 24, 2020 — 2:27 pm
DAVIS P WHITTAKR says:
OK. do that. do it tomorrow. ENTERTAIN ME!
April 25, 2020 — 10:20 am