Records are an important part of sports. They provide a context that links the past and present, giving younger generations a means to appreciate what came before their time. They allow the names of legends to live on beyond the confines of their brief careers. And by monopolizing football’s records, Lionel Messi is destroying everything.
Messi broke Spain’s hat-trick record in Barcelona’s 6–1 win over Rayo Vallecano at the weekend, surpassing Athletic Bilbao great Telmo Zarra’s tally of 31. If this was Messi’s first entry into the record books, it would be reason to applaud. But, in truth, it’s just the latest example of his ongoing mission to claim every record for himself, effectively casting off an assortment of the game’s legends to be forgotten.
At this rate, future generations will see the endless list of Messi records and wonder why there was an extended period in football history where a happy little Argentine man roamed the fields of Spain all by himself, scoring goals at will. Of course, they will also think that Cristiano Ronaldo was a cyborg created to stop him (because no human in what will be known as “The Age of Competitive Eating” could possibly have abs that perfect), but was ultimately thwarted by his weakness for swimsuit models.
Over the first 150 years of association football, there was Alcantara and Di Stefano and Platini and Figo. Now there is only Messi. Like an invading force that erases all evidence of what came before them, Messi unrelentingly etches his name in the record books over and over again, refusing to stop until the game is known as Messiball and anyone over 5’9″ is considered too freakishly large to possibly do it correctly.
It has become clear that Messi is far too good to be stopped and only takes occasional breaks from his dominant ways to vomit on things and trick us into believing that he will treat his opponents and predecessors with mercy. So to preserve football’s history from his record-book tyranny, we must reinstate all previous marks and limit Messi to one category — the “We Get It” category. As in, “We get it, you’re insanely good and we’ll stop rushing to say you’ve got nothing left until you tell us that that is, in fact, the case.”
We must take action soon, though. Because if we wait much longer, the citizens of tomorrow will only know of Messi’s records and the mysterious, undocumented peerage of “Lord” Bendtner documented by millions of internet memes.