After Paul the Octopus, World Cup soothsayer and professional octopus, came to a timely end in 2010, the animal kingdom was abuzz with speculation: who could possibly replace all eight of his soccer-predicting shoes? This “crack team” of baby pandas, apparently. Or maybe just one baby panda? It is not clear, exactly, how many baby pandas will be involved in the predicting of the 2014 World Cup, but it will definitely be some number of baby pandas.
The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that, according to Chinese media accounts, a single panda cub has officially been “invited” to predict the results of matches in this year’s tournament. The South China Morning Post, meanwhile, says that, actually, it will be a whole crew of baby pandas, who will wear different national flags and then complete a “host of activities,” mostly involving eating food from different baskets, a favorite hobby of pandas. Either way, the pressure is on. No creature to date has rivaled Paul’s mollusk instinct: Citta the Indian Elephant, Fred the Ferret, and Psychic Pig all tried and failed to predict the Euro 2012 outcome. Also, pandas are notoriously bad at things, such as staying a viable species.
But while pandas — or panda, if the WSJ is correct — may not themselves excel at sports, or anything else, really, I, for one, am optimistic about their success as pundits. Perhaps punditry has been their calling all along, and their dispassion — so bad for making future pandas — is a boon to their sports forecasting careers. They are clear-headed, those pandas. Or at least, they might be. And really, don’t they deserve a chance?
Image via dominiqueb