SPORTS TALK: Have you done your Neymar Challenge yet?

by James McCarthy- July 14, 2018

And so the saga in Thailand is over that saw the soccer team and their coach trapped in a cave for more than a fortnight.

Thankfully, all 12 players and the coach were rescued and were taken to hospital for a check-up. Perhaps the most incredible part of all this is that they’re all in decent health, even when they were found.

Everyone, including me, thought rescuers would find 13 corpses, which was the absolute worst-case scenario. All is well and everyone has been reunited, but we need to spare a thought for the former Thai Navy Seal who lost his life in the process. He was the only casualty and I hope he’s remembered as much as we remember the countless others who helped.

On to less important, but humorous, things nonetheless:

A rolling soccer player gathers no respect

Brazil didn’t win the FIFA World Cup (praise Jesus) but their time in Russia will forever be remembered, or at least Neymar’s will.

You’ll recall last week my absolute schadenfreude at how Brazil’s talisman was mercilessly mocked for his Oscar-worthy play-acting every time anyone got to within five feet of his person. Well, the world is now copying what Neymar was doing in Russia with the Neymar Challenge. It’s become a huge hit as photos and videos have popped up all over the place showing soccer players of all sorts stopping, dropping and rolling like they were on fire.

As someone who enjoys calling out the divers of the soccer world, you could say I’m the proverbial pig in poop. No one has to point anything out about what Neymar did because the rest of the world is doing it for us. It would appear Ashley Young is no longer the world’s most prolific soccer simulator.

My personal favourite was seeing the photos from a friendly game between Mexican club side Tijuana and Herediano from Costa Rica. There was a Neymar Challenge at halftime involving some fans and even though they had trouble keeping a straight line, it was still fun to see. And of course, it had nothing to do with the fact that Mexico and Costa Rica were two teams which fell victim to Neymar’s antics over the course of the tournament.

Congratulations, Neymar – you are a true roll model.

Kids, don’t do drugs

This is Hunter S. Thompson. He thought it would be a good idea for the Indianapolis Colts to draft Ryan Leaf ahead of Peyton Manning in 1998. This is why you should never do drugs. photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Hunter S. Thompson was all about the counter-culture movement and consumed plenty of drugs along the way until he committed suicide in 2005.

As further proof to why you kids should stay away from the ol’ marayooahna, a letter was published by Ryan Leaf – yes, that Ryan Leaf – on July 6 which was penned allegedly by Thompson giving advice on drafting quarterbacks to Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts. Thompson claimed that Leaf was better-suited to the National Football League than the other guy the Colts were thinking about drafting.

That other guy was only Peyton Manning, who the Colts drafted first overall in 1998 and who turned into one of the best pivots in football history. Leaf went second overall to the San Diego Chargers and we all know how that turned out.

The funniest part of the whole letter, though, was the claim that Irsay had asked Thompson for $30 million to help secure the services of Manning when he was drafted but if it was for Leaf, Thompson was apparently good for the money. He was, after all, the author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which was turned into a movie starring Johnny Depp and grossed $13.7 million at the box office.

See, kids? Just say no.

Benny Hill, anyone?

There are those moments in sports where Yakety Sax is the most appropriate music bed to put under a highlight pack. July 9 was one of those times.

With all of the soccer focus on Russia, it was easy to forget that other action was happening, such as in the United Soccer League, which is the third tier of professional soccer in North America.

North Carolina FC was taking on the Charleston Battery and it was in stoppage time in the second half. North Carolina is on the attack, trying to find the equalizer late and managed to find almost every single way to not score.

It began with a save by the goalkeeper after it bounced off the defender’s butt, followed by a clearance off the line from another defender, followed by a hit goalpost, followed by a North Carolina player flubbing a shot, followed by a clearance.

Any takers on Benny Hill smiling down upon nigh on that sequence du crap?

And finally …

Good Idea: Celebrating an England victory.

Bad (and most terrible) idea (ever): A Scottish woman celebrating an England victory.

It’s peak 2018, folks. Is this what it’s come to?

England beat Sweden on July 7, 2-0, which was bad enough because I really, really wanted Sweden to win. Because neither Canada nor Scotland were in (stunner), I was cheering for whoever played England. Or whoever managed to make Neymar roll around like a child.

But this … this was the ultimate abomination. There were celebrations in London after England’s win, which included fans, good and crocked, stomping and smashing the crap out of an ambulance. Stay classy, London. But one female fan stood out in particular. She got up and danced on the now-defiled rescue vehicle, cheered on by the mob. It’s been confirmed her name is Larissa Bell and she’s from Scotland.

Scotland.

I don’t care why or what she was doing in London at the time because that’s her business but why in the holy hell is someone from Scotland cheering for England? Piece of advice for Ms. Bell: turn in your card, you turncoat. My dear-departed grandfather would have thrown an ashtray at the T.V. had he seen that. I would have thrown my empty Diet Pepsi bottle or something.

Until next time, folks …

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