In a new low (or high?) for summertime sports competition, Michael Phelps raced a shark on Sunday. While we can question the motives behind this, from why Phelps only raced a computer simulation of a shark to the shark’s qualifications to even be in this race, one thing is certain: this has opened up a whole world of new sports possibilities. Why stop at one champion and one animal when you can flood the zone with both? Here, a few more athlete-animal matchups we’d like to see:
Tom Brady vs. a goat: Look, not even the NFL’s G.O.A.T. could handle the horns of a smelly, pissed-off (is there any other kind?) actual goat. But with about three hours’ work, Brady could train the goat well enough to slot in at receiver for the Patriots. Bonus: Bill Belichick could use the eat-anything goat to destroy all kinds of incriminating evidence.
Clayton Kershaw vs. an archer fish: Kershaw is a three-time Cy Young Award winner with the ability to fire a baseball past the greatest hitters on earth. The archer fish is a shot glass-sized niblet with the ability to spit water hard enough to knock insects out of trees from underwater. Tough matchup of similar skill sets, but we’ll give this matchup to Kershaw … unless it takes place in October.
LeBron James vs. a grizzly bear: Big-time grizzlies can top nine feet and half a ton. That would prove a challenge even for the five-position James. A bear’s in-game repertoire relies heavily on swiping and clutching, not unlike Draymond Green, so LeBron would be on at least somewhat familiar territory. Our guess: LeBron edges out the grizzly bear straight up, then watches in horror as the bear signs with the Warriors.
Washington Redskins vs. cicadas: Both show up about once every 17 years and make a ton of noise, annoying everyone within 500 miles of the nation’s capital. Both are gone again within about six weeks, leaving wreckage like discarded shells and old RG3 jerseys for the rest of us to clean up.
Phil Jackson vs. a weasel: Before Jackson even arrives at the showdown, the weasel swings a cap-friendly deal to trade Carmelo Anthony to Houston and brings in some backcourt help for Kristaps Porzingis. Then the weasel has Jackson’s car towed. It is a weasel, after all.
Tim Tebow vs. a puppy: Come on, who can hate either of these two? Rather than fight, Tebow and the puppy cuddle up and become fast friends, leading to a chorus of “awwwww”s from the millions watching. Tebow and the pup then hatch a plan to get into politics, and Tebow/Puppy ’20 wins the White House in a landslide.
Bryce Harper vs. a peacock: Both display impressive plumage and a consistent awareness of their appearance. How a Harper-peacock duet isn’t a bobblehead yet is a mystery.
The Alabama offensive line vs. a rhinoceros: Competition cancelled when Nick Saban offers rhino a walk-on scholarship; rhino begins 2017 season listed at third on the Tide’s depth chart.
Aaron Judge vs. a blue whale: Blue whales are the strongest creatures in the animal kingdom; their enormous tails are able to generate an estimated 60 kilonewtons of force, about half of a jet engine. Judge generates that when laying down a bunt.
The Freeze vs. a cheetah: We all know how well The Freeze, the Atlanta Braves’ celebrated icon of speed, can run while chasing down some hapless fan. So let’s turn the tables. We’ll let The Freeze get the head start before we turn loose the cheetah. How well can The Freeze protect a lead? We’ll find out.
Mike Trout vs. a trout: Some hard truth: trout are the utility infielders of the fish world. None of them are worth $50 million a year. This one ends with a pan and sizzling butter.
LaVar Ball vs. a pistol shrimp: One generates deafening, concussive sound waves that render unconscious any living creature within earshot. The other is a shrimp.
Simone Biles vs. your cat: Biles and the cat are neck-and-neck in all gymnastic endeavors: vault, balance beam, climbing on the back of the sofa, clinging to the curtains, etc. But Biles wins when the judges downgrade the cat for its bored, annoyed expression throughout.
Floyd Mayweather vs. a butterfly: A classic matchup of similar styles, with both combatants employing a range of bobbing, weaving and fluttering maneuvers to elude contact. But the butterfly’s tougher punch force should win the judges’ hearts.
Marshawn Lynch vs. an armadillo: If you try a pass play with an armadillo in the backfield, that armadillo will straight bite your leg off.
Usain Bolt vs. American Pharaoh: Forget Phelps vs. shark, this is the marquee matchup we all want to see. How would the world’s fastest man fare against the first Triple Crown winner in a generation? Previous man-vs.-horse races have hinged on whether the race is a straight hundred yards or an out-and-back. American Pharaoh would win a flat-out race, we all know that … but we want to see how the horse would handle passing the baton in a relay.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.