wrveres wrote:Shouldn't the nod here go to some of the Triathletes that have dominated year in and year out in the Ironman?
They should be considered for sure, but are on no different level than a Bo Jackson or Dave Winfield. Its just different skillsets.
Personaally I don't give Bo the respect he deserves cus his career was cut short. Was he a great Athlete sure, but there may have been many great Athletes that had short careers but not the fame or marketing power of Bo. We may never know ...
I have heard it agrued that hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sport, and if true, then I gotta go with the only guy who has 500 plus HR's and 500 plus Sb's ..
It all goes back to what each persons defines as an athlete. Personally I would consider anyone who was able to excel at the highest level of different sports in the category of "greatest athlete". Someone who was successful at basically any athletic competition you put in front of them (sorry MJ, you're out). It probably excludes some people who couldn't play multiple sports because of time constraints or the level of dedication needed to excel in their particular sport, but thems the breaks.
Thorpe probably best fits my definition. Dominate in football and Olympic champion in the decathalon / pentathalon (the definitions of wide skill sets). He wasn't an All-Star type baseball player, but he was an above average player.
I honestly don't know enough about foreign multisport stars to even try and add them into the mix.
It is interesting how everyone defines athletes very differently. The polemics seem to be (in very rough definitions):
1. sport as defined by anything for amusement in a competitive manner. This can be from fishing, to poker, to girl watching. Yes, there is skill in each. There may even be physical prowess... such as casting, focus, even delivery in pickup lines etc.
2. The antipodal wants to define limits on the amusement influence or entertainment value in which sponsor competition. This has athletes becoming physical specimens that should trancend their sport and be great at all competitions. Sports that these specimens cannot succeed at are disqualified as sports and become quasi-sports or "events". (i.e. Auto-racing)
The fact is that an athlete is not going to be great at all sports. Sports are specialized and require years of dedication to reach the world class level. In addition physical prowess doesn't necessarily equate to ability in competition. Shaq cannot hit a free-throw. Lance cannot dunk a basketball. and do I dare bring up Todd Marinovich (sp?)or Rick Ankiel for the mental aspects.
Have fun discussing the etymology of 'athlete', and rankings of toughest sport. Just give me hockey starting and baseball playoffs and I'm a happy guy.
btw Skip Bayless- If you do not think Lance is an athlete please get your head out of your a$$ you are making a mockery of sports writers. We stopped listening to you long ago.
Walter Ray Williams Jr. Arguebly the greatest bowler ever, and the world's horseshoe champion. Made the top spot in 2 sports. Can anyone else say that?
Jim Thorpe, with Bo Jackson modern era. Bo never took up bb till late in life. Had he played it as his sport since a kid, he would have been a all time great. He made the single greatest play i ever saw a bb player make. He threw Harold Reynolds out at the play on a ball he threw on a line from the warning track in the Kingdome. Bo played bb much better then Sanders.
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I'm glad someone brought up Babe Didrickson Zaharias. Let's see, she was a basketball All-American, won two track and field gold medals at the 1932 Olympics, then toured the country exhibiting her skills in track, swimming, tennis, baseball, and even billiards. In 1935, she took up golf and won 82 tournaments in a 20-year career before dying of cancer at a young age (42).
-between 1930 and 1932, she held American, Olympic, or world records in five different track-and-field events.
-on July 16, 1932, she entered a track meet for women as the sole member of her team and won the national women's team championship by scoring 30 points. The 2nd-place team, with 20 members, scored 22 points. She broke 4 world records in a single afternoon.
-she organized a professional basketball team called Babe Didrickson's All-Americans that toured the country and played local men's teams.
-in 1934, she went to Florida and appeared in major league exhibition baseball games during spring training, then played on the famous House of David baseball team on a nationwide tour.
-in golf, during the 1946-1947 season, she won 17 straight tournaments.
Roger Angell: I was talking with Bob Gibson and I said: 'Are you always this competitive?' He said: 'Oh, I think so. I got a three-year old daughter, and I've played about 500 games of tic-tac-toe with her and she hasn't beat me yet.'
bolkonsky wrote:Finally, basketball-only athletes should probably not even enter this discussion. Any sport that someone can "pick-up" at the age of 18 and reach the highest level is suspect, in my opinion.
Who did that?
Besides, even if someone did, you're discrediting an entire sport because of one isolated incident? Sounds a little odd to me...
If I remember right, Bo Jackson also played lacrosse. I think I remember someone saying that it was actually his best sport. And when you think about the fact that he can throw a baseball on a line from the Kingdome warning track to home plate then the thought of Bo Jackson as a lacrosse player becomes VERY scary.