2022: Sports Champions

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Sports Champions
For a long time, people thought maybe Usain Bolt was the one for running, until the 2090s and the incredible dominance of Derek Legs.
Title text: For a long time, people thought maybe Usain Bolt was the one for running, until the 2090s and the incredible dominance of Derek Legs.


In an example of nominative determinism, the comic lists people whose surname relates to their participation in various sports. It is presented as though it was created in the far future, reflecting on champions over the decades through to the 2080s. The first three are real sportspeople, the remainder are imaginary players of the future. The names progress from real, to fictional-but-plausible, to rare or highly unusual, to utterly implausible and impractical names.

The caricatures are participating in their sport, except for Jebediah who is standing at a lectern.

Name Years Sport Explanation
Margaret Court 1960s Tennis Margaret Court is an Australian tennis player, former world number 1, who won many competitions in the 1960s and 70s. A tennis court is the playing arena used in that sport.
Gary Player 1970s Golf Gary Player is a South African golfer who won nine major championships between 1959 and 1978. Competitors are often known as players, such as in The Players Championship.
Lonzo Ball 2020s Basketball Lonzo Ball is an American professional basketball player, currently with the Los Angeles Lakers. The 2020s decade predicts future success, as he began playing professionally in 2017. Basketball is, of course, a ball game.
Jake Halfpipe 2030s Skateboarding A halfpipe is a structure used in extreme sports such as skateboarding and snowboarding.
Sarah Goggles 2030s Swimming Goggles are protective eyewear used in many sports, such as swimming or skiing.
Kevin Slurve 2050s Baseball A slurve is a baseball throwing technique, a portmanteau of slider and curve.
Julia Chairlift 2050s Skiing A chairlift is an aerial machine often used to transport winter sports participants up mountains.
Dwight Shuttlecock 2060s Badminton A shuttlecock is a projectile used in the sport of badminton.
Brandon Sponsorship 2060s Unclear Sporting professionals are often sponsored by corporations. Brandon is holding a pair of shoes, which are probably a branded sponsorship item.
Kate Dopingscandal 2070s Cycling There have been many doping scandals in the world of cycling. Doping refers to the "use of physiological substances or abnormal methods to obtain an artificial increase in performance."
Jebediah Disasterous Postgame-PressConference 2080s Unspecified At the end of sporting events - i.e. post-game - there is often a press conference where the competitors discuss the result. Sometimes, these live interviews are a disaster. Randall has chosen to spell his name as "Disasterous", rather than the more conventional "Disastrous".
Usain Bolt (in title text, not depicted) (2010s) Sprinting From the title text, Usain Bolt is a retired world record sprinter. He was a solid contender for this list since he can bolt down the track. However the fictional Derek Legs is selected, either as an even faster sprinter, or because “legs” more clearly and unambiguously relates to running than “bolt” does.
Derek Legs (title text, not depicted) 2090s


[Two rows of people wielding sports equipment are shown, six in the upper row, five in the lower, only the last has no equipment but is standing behind a lectern with a microphone attached to it. Below each person, their name is given and the decade in which they were champions of their sport is given below their name, in brackets. Here is a list of the 11 people:]
[Woman with dark hair holding a tennis racket]
Margaret Court
[Cueball with a golf club]
Gary Player
[Cueball with a basketball]
Lonzo Ball
[Hairy on a skateboard]
Jake Halfpipe
[Woman with dark hair wearing a swim cap and goggles]
Sarah Goggles
[A man with a baseball cap throwing a baseball to the right]
Kevin Slurve
[A woman with long black hair in a knit cap and wearing ski googles is standing on skis holding ski poles]
Julia Chairlift
[Hairy holding a badminton racket bouncing a shuttlecock on it]
Dwight Shuttlecock
[Hairy holding a pair of shoes in his hand]
Brandon Sponsorship
[Hairbun standing next to a bicycle.]
Kate Dopingscandal
[Hairy standing behind a lectern with a microphone on it.]
Jebediah Disasterous Postgame PressConference
[Caption below the panel:]
Fun fact: Every sport eventually produces a champion competitor named after a common element of the game.

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Since Kate Dopingscandal has a bike, it seems to me she's actually likely a direct reference to Lance Armstrong. NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:46, 20 July 2018 (UTC)

Yeah, that's why I included him as an example. Feel free to clarify if you want, of course. 06:09, 20 July 2018 (UTC)
Why is a bike directly a direct reference to Lance Armstrong? and why are additionally only "many russians" listed? It is clearly not a phenomena only seen with mr. Armstrong, and Russians, but with cylcing sports in general. The biggest Cycling event, the Tour_de_France is hit by a doping scandal every year. Also other events have many cases. Lately actually there have even be cases of Motor Doping. So I think Lance Armstrong can stay as maybe the most famous example, but we should say that it is many others and not Lance Armstrong and Russians. Lupo (talk) 08:22, 21 July 2018 (UTC)
Because he's easily the most famous example. I realize there are plenty of others - the France native below portrays it as downright epidemic in the sport - but Lance was so highly unbelievably visible. My impression is that in North America (which is where both Randall and I live), cycling as a professional sport enjoys notably less popularity than most other sports, and less than it might elsewhere in the world. Yet virtually EVERYBODY has heard of Lance (I follow no sports whatsoever, and I can even discuss him here). Lance attained nearly a hero status, he beat cancer... He started and/or inspired The LiveStrong movement, its support bracelets spread far and wide, inspiring imitators. At which point the scandal hit. Now combine this heightened visibility with Randall's history of comics portraying him - as Cueball - as knowing nothing about sports. Lance is the only cycling doping scandal _I_ can name, or even cyclist I can name at all, chances are it's the same for Randall. This comic is certainly referencing Lance. I only commented because the description was only listing him as an example. (I said nothing about Russians, I don't know of any Russian doping scandal) NiceGuy1 (talk) 13:46, 22 July 2018 (UTC)
Having re-checked the description, I can answer the Russian portion: It says "many Russians" because those words link to a Wikipedia article about Russia in general, not one particular incident. The mere existence of the article tells me that enough Russians have been hit by doping scandals that they rate their own Wikipedia article. It's a great find for this ExplainXKCD article, no wonder somebody made sure to include it. NiceGuy1 (talk) 13:55, 22 July 2018 (UTC)
I put both those in. In fact, I wrote almost the entire article. I'm English, but I try to "think American" when editing. I immediately thought of Armstrong,and totally agree with your reasoning; if you do searches for "doping scandal" you immediately see him, but also, the Russian thing. Centered on the 2012 Olympics, and state-sponsored doping, their subsequent exclusion from the 2016 Olympics is amongst the biggest ever sporting scandals of all time, worldwide. Perhaps more so outside America, but it's certainly of epic proportions. 16:54, 22 July 2018 (UTC)
I'm 46 and live in France. As far as I can remember (1980 ?) cycling has always been THE sport associated with doping. I can remember some famous cases in other sports (Ben Johnson in the 1988 olympics) but for cycling it was said to be quasi systematic. The Armstong case was a worldwide scandal, but Tour de France had a much severe problem in 1998 where entire teams were involved and excluded from the race. Five years later, after several trials and new analysis of the 1998 samples with more evolved techniques it was revealed that at least the 5 first finishers (and many more) were doped. If you consult the Wikipedia article “doping in sport”, you will note that cycling is by far the largest section, and almost 100 years old in Tour de France. 12:57, 22 July 2018 (UTC)
Ah, but in cases like this, where different cultures can have an effect, I always bring it back to this: Where does Randall live? In America. While people in France (and cycling fans) might be well aware of many, many, MANY cycling doping scandals, I'd say the average American is not. Plus, Randall has been quite vocal about not knowing sports. Chances are, Lance Armstrong is the only cyclist he can even name at all, never mind doping scandals. And now I cause myself to wonder, did Randall think of Armstrong because his last name is also one made of words, that Lance Armstrong would be on this list himself if he had excelled at arm wrestling? :) NiceGuy1 (talk) 13:46, 22 July 2018 (UTC)

He should have listed, in the sport of eXtreme Software Engineering, the dominance of Little Bobby Tables in the late 2020's. ---- (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Damn, what a missed opportunity. :) NiceGuy1 (talk) 13:46, 22 July 2018 (UTC)

Would Jebediah be a reference to Kerbal Space Program? Things tend to go disaterously in it. 12:54, 20 July 2018 (UTC)

It's worth noting that the all-star right fielder for the Boston Red Sox, who are currently in first place in the MLB, is named Markus Lynn "Mookie" Betts, with the initials "MLB." Aside from the fact that he's already won several divisional titles with his team, there's a good chance he'll soon be on a world series winning team as well, perhaps to become the next high-profile example. (Full disclosure: I'm a huge Red Sox fan) 13:47, 20 July 2018 (UTC)

Art Ball (1890’s) Full name Arthur Ball Born April , 1872, Madison, Indiana Died December 26, 1915, Chicago, Illinois Buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois First MLB Game: August 1, 1894; Final MLB Game: October 15, 1898 Bat: Unknown Throw: Right Weight: 168 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

What, no Cecil Fielder? -- 19:32, 20 July 2018 (UTC)

What, no Chris Moneymaker? (Poker, 2000's) These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk) 01:10, 22 July 2018 (UTC)

Moved from the main talk page
--Dgbrt (talk) 19:30, 21 July 2018 (UTC)

Misspelling in today's comic

Your article says: "Randall has chosen to spell his name as "Disasterous", rather than the more conventional "Disastrous"." Presumably he hasn't "chosen" to do this but merely made a spelling error. In that case, your comment is misleading. 23:25, 20 July 2018 (UTC)

Brandon Sponsorship may also be read as Brand On Sponsorship, having two terms related.

I know what you mean, and thought about it at the time, but the connection isn't completely obvious and I didn't want to bring in too much assumption on my part. I tried to reference it without making a judgement, by mentioning the word in the text, but not putting it in bold or directly saying that there was a connection. I think that's OK? 16:27, 22 July 2018 (UTC)

(Previous person didn't sign) About the misspelling, I feel like that's a perfectly acceptable version of the word. It's how I'd instinctually spell it, he just added "ous" to the word "disaster". That's where the word comes from! It's actually ridiculous that this ISN'T the correct spelling! I blame the English language on this one. I'd guess that centuries ago that WAS the correct spelling, and the E just got dropped at some point, to streamline the pronunciation of the word. I just Googled it, and MANY articles showed up defining it as a common misspelling of the word, that's how common this spelling is. NiceGuy1 (talk) 14:11, 22 July 2018 (UTC)

There is no right or wrong spelling for a surname. You can be Mr. Tailor or Mr.Taylor, or a hundred other versions. That's why I deliberately wrote that Randall chose that spelling, and I think it's obvious from the way I phrased it that it's not the normal spelling of the word. I don't think we should pass judgement about his decision, even though there's a very high chance he just made a typo. I also concur with the opinion of NiceGuy1, so I have changed it back to the way it was. Best, 16:27, 22 July 2018 (UTC)
Given that the USA has a dominantly prescriptivist spelling culture for non-names (i.e. in academics and business correctness is defined by books before common usage, coompare to descriptivist which would be the other way around), the phrasing here misleads the leader into believing that both spellings are currently considered correct, as is actually true for other words. There are a lot of misleading statements in this wiki; maybe we should be up-front about that until somebody has the energy to work through everything and stay on top of it all. 14:45, 25 July 2018 (UTC)
There I fixed it. I'm me(citation needed) (talk) 23:28, 25 July 2018 (UTC)
Still looks messy to me; what kind of citation do you want - a brainscan of Randall? You know he chose to write the word in that way. Why is beyond our knowledge. See further down this page for more discussion and opinions about it. -- 04:28, 27 July 2018 (UTC)

From the transcript: "[Cueball with a golf club] Gary Player" and "[Cueball with a basketball] Lonzo Ball". I'm not familiar with all the conventions around here, but would it be NOT Cueball when it is very definitely someone else? Sure, the made-up names later on could be Cueball standing in for them, but for those, wouldn't it actually be the real person, just looking Cueball-ish due to the art style? (And as an aside, a slight pity that there wasn't a pool player named something like Randall Cueball in the comic... 03:31, 23 July 2018 (UTC)


When I first wrote this explanation, without thinking much, I said Jeb was standing at a podium. Someone corrected it to "lectern", which is absolutely correct of them - see that Wikipedia article. But the interesting thing is, there is an xkcd cartoon about this very subject!

1661: Podium

Should this somehow be mentioned in the explanation? I thought probably not, because Randall made no mention of it; it was purely my own error, and just an interesting connection to today's comic. Right? 16:36, 22 July 2018 (UTC)

Margaret Court[edit]

She wasn't the best choice. Recently in Australia someone let her near a microphone & it turns out she's quite homophobic.

  • Perhaps not in terms of PR and exposure of the sport (and I certainly am among those who don't approve), but that doesn't detract from the point of the comic which looks in terms of on-field accomplishments and their last names. 15:15, 27 July 2018 (UTC)

Jebediah's Sport[edit]

It appears that, based on the person's name, their sport could be debating, public speaking, or giving live postgame press conferences.

Milesman34 (talk) 03:48, 23 July 2018 (UTC)milesman34

Why Baseball is a Problem[edit]

Did you ever notice that players named "White" are almost always black, and players named "Black" are usually white? Why is that? The last White major leaguer who was actually white was Mike White, who played for Houston in the early sixties. Since then we've had Bill White, Roy White, Frank White, and Jerry White, all of whom were black; Mike White probably would have been black except that his father played in the majors in the thirties and they didn't allow you to be black back then. The Royals also had a Black on their roster, Bud, who of course is white; in fact, the Royals had to set some sort of record by having four colored people on their team, White, Black, Blue, and Brown. Scott Brown is not any browner than anyone else, Vida is definitely not blue, nor for that matter is Darryl Motley. I suppose that is the nature of names, as with Peacekeeping Missiles and Security Police, to disguise the truth more often than they reveal it. Horace Speed stole only four bases in his career. Vic Power was a singles hitter, Bill Goodenough was not good enough, and Joe Blong did not belong for long.

-- Bill James, 1983

Me, I'm disappointed that Jim Gentile wasn't Jewish. WHPratt (talk) 12:16, 24 July 2018 (UTC)

Chosen spelling - Citation needed[edit]

Re. Randall has chosen to spell his name as "Disasterous", rather than the more conventional "Disastrous".

Putting {{citation needed}} on that is a bit silly. You can see he chose to spell it that way from the cartoon. It's self-evident. What's the issue, what needs a citation? As to why he decided to spell it that way, nobody but Randall knows, and we're unlikely to ever find out. It's probably a typo, but isn't that just an assumption? He chose to type the word that way - whether that's because he doesn't know how to spell it correctly, or because he likes it that way. Nobody but Randall knows.

A couple of people think it should say he misspelled it, but see the discussions; others agree with me that there is not correct spelling of surnames (e.g. Tailor/Taylor). It's a name, not the word.

IMHO, the cite-needed is just clutter and confusing. I think the wording was good, without a messy tag. It's not really something I want to argue pointlessly and endlessly about, so I won't remove it myself right now; I'll see what other people say. 14:52, 26 July 2018 (UTC)

Eh, it's been several days, nobody seems bothered, so I'll remove it now. 15:05, 30 July 2018 (UTC)


why am i the first one to see the kerbal space program reference? where are you my fellow kerbals?

It's a bit of a tenuous link. I get it, Kerbal has disasters, and has a person named Jebediah, but it's a reasonably common name; there's nothing space-related in the cartoon to suggest a connection. -- 04:21, 27 July 2018 (UTC)