MOBILE USERS: m.isthmus.com
Connect with Isthmus:         Newsletters 
Tuesday, January 27, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 27.0° F  Fog/Mist
Collapse Photo Bar

Is it fair to call Phelps greatest olympic athlete

Badgers, Packers, Mallards. Paddling, running, golfing. And bikes!

Is it fair to call Phelps greatest olympic athlete

Postby butters » Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:27 pm

During the olympic coverage, Michael Phelps is often referred to as "The Greatest Olympic Champion" or "The Best/Greatest Olympic Athlete" just because he won the most medals.

Is this fair to the other athletes?

Does this mean that only competitors in swimming, track, speed skating, simple repetitive motions, etc. can be called the " Greatest", just because they break their sport down into numerous different styles and distances?

Greatest athlete?
A swimmer? A skater?
Put these people on dry land as see how "Great" they are. The other athletes in team sports who work their asses off just as much don't stand a chance of claiming that title.

What if golf was an olympic sport? Then let's say they offered medals to who could hit the best driver, 3-wood, 5-wood, 2-iron, 3-iron...sand wedge. Chances are the best athlete will be defined by who the best golfer is. Yikes.

Or who really gives a shit?
butters
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 544
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2007 1:30 pm

Postby TheBookPolice » Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:34 pm

Well, you obviously do, or you wouldn't have posted this diatribe.

I think we should put weightlifters in the pool. That would really show just how amaz....oh. Huh. No direct equivalence, you say? Hm.

Doesn't seem like you know much about sports, and sports commentary. Could be wrong, but the evidence doesn't lie.
TheBookPolice
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 8433
Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2006 1:09 pm
Location: The mystical Far East

Postby butters » Tue Aug 19, 2008 7:14 am

TheBookPolice wrote:I think we should put weightlifters in the pool. That would really show just how amaz....oh. Huh. No direct equivalence, you say? Hm.

Yeah that sounds like a great idea! Then we could have them throw a ball around into little nets...wait...no, that idea has already been taken. Good thought though.

TheBookPolice wrote:Doesn't seem like you know much about sports, and sports commentary. Could be wrong, but the evidence doesn't lie.

So does this suggest that you, the all-knowing one, think that more medals = better olympic athlete?

TheBookPolice wrote:Well, you obviously do, or you wouldn't have posted this diatribe.

No shit. I put the last part in there because i admittedly realize just how trivial this is.
butters
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 544
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2007 1:30 pm

Postby TheBookPolice » Tue Aug 19, 2008 10:35 am

butters wrote:So does this suggest that you, the all-knowing one, think that more medals = better olympic athlete?


It means that as trivial and pointless as you appear to consider all sports, sports commentary is even more trivial and pointless. Do you think it actually means anything that Rowdy Gaines or Jim Lampley thinks Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympian or athlete of all time?

Why so upset about it? Lemme guess. You're a badmintoner.
TheBookPolice
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 8433
Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2006 1:09 pm
Location: The mystical Far East

Postby Janet Spank » Tue Aug 19, 2008 10:51 am

Seriously butt... you take yourself way to seriously.

TheBookPolice wrote:Well, you obviously do, or you wouldn't have posted this diatribe.


:lol:
Janet Spank
Senior Member
 
Posts: 85
Joined: Tue Aug 12, 2008 10:48 am

Postby TAsunder » Tue Aug 19, 2008 11:34 am

I agree with the principle of your complaint to a point. Some sports seem to be under-represented as far as number of medals. However, that doesn't mean that what Phelps did isn't remarkable.

Suppose for a moment they did make 3-wood an Olympic event. At first, pro golfers would be the main ones competing. In 20 years, you'd probably have 3-wood specialists who couldn't win a real golf tournament to save their life. If golf became an Olympic sport and there were a "best golf score" along with bet stroke of each sort, then eventually it would be a gargantuan feat to win a lot of medals in golf, because so many specialists would exist.

What Phelps did was quite absurd. He not only swam in 17 events compared to 3 for some people, but he beat specialists who only swim certain events at their event while swimming 17 events.

That said, "athlete" is a very subjective term. And some olympians contributed so much to history that they have a fair case to be considered greatest olympian. I don't think it's clear cut necessarily.
TAsunder
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 4783
Joined: Tue Oct 16, 2001 1:21 pm
Location: Near East Side, Madison

Postby fisticuffs » Tue Aug 19, 2008 11:49 am

I'm proud to say I have watched zero Olympic events this year. Half in protest and half because it sucks and is boring and I've got more than enough Football and Baseball to satisfy me.
fisticuffs
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 7872
Joined: Sat Jul 24, 2004 2:49 pm
Location: Slightly outside of Madison

Postby butters » Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:34 pm

TAsunder wrote:I agree with the principle of your complaint to a point. Some sports seem to be under-represented as far as number of medals. However, that doesn't mean that what Phelps did isn't remarkable.

Suppose for a moment they did make 3-wood an Olympic event. At first, pro golfers would be the main ones competing. In 20 years, you'd probably have 3-wood specialists who couldn't win a real golf tournament to save their life. If golf became an Olympic sport and there were a "best golf score" along with bet stroke of each sort, then eventually it would be a gargantuan feat to win a lot of medals in golf, because so many specialists would exist.

What Phelps did was quite absurd. He not only swam in 17 events compared to 3 for some people, but he beat specialists who only swim certain events at their event while swimming 17 events.

That said, "athlete" is a very subjective term. And some olympians contributed so much to history that they have a fair case to be considered greatest olympian. I don't think it's clear cut necessarily.


Wow! Thank you so much for not putting words into my mouth and for giving a reasoned response to such an absurd diatribe posed by a really upset shuttlecocker. You make a lot of sense. Really. (Where's the emoticon for calmness?)

So following the stupid golf analogy...
Because golf awards so many medals, countries that want to look good on paper would tend to put more of their limited resources into golf at the expense of other sports. Never mind. That doesn't happen. (insert calmness emoticon)
butters
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 544
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2007 1:30 pm

Postby jjoyce » Tue Aug 19, 2008 1:00 pm

The best athletes at the Olympics are the decathletes. Speed, endurance, strength, plus the mental strength required to compete in ten events, one after the other after the other.

These are the guys who would perform best in a setting where you take a bunch of athletes, throw them into a game none of them has ever trained for, and see how they do. To me, that's why any talk of Tiger Woods being a great athlete is ridiculous. How would he do against Phelps in a game requiring agility or quickness? How would either of them do against Brian Clay, the US favorite in the decathlon?

Phelps is a great swimmer, without question, but how much of his success can be pinned to his freakish body dimensions and a coach who has been narrow-mindedly devoted to getting him to this exact point for the last 12 years of his life? He's very similar to Tiger in this way. Earl Woods basically devoted his adult life to building the world's greatest golfer, which is messed up on so many levels.
jjoyce
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 12168
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2001 4:48 pm
Location: Madison, WI

Postby O.J. » Tue Aug 19, 2008 1:31 pm

The term "greatest athlete" is incredibly subjective and, by itself, ensures sports debates will never end. It's practically impossible to compare different athletes in different sports in different eras. Take Babe Ruth, for example. Widely considered the best baseball player ever, but, for example, played in the era of segregation.

I agree with Jason about decathletes being the best "pure" athletes, but that's only one part of the equation. Since you brought up Tiger Woods, he probably has as much hand-eye coordination and mental toughness as any athlete in history(I've also heard he's a damn good basketball player).

I would rank Carl Lewis as one of the best athletes of my time. I'd rank him even higher if it wasn't for this:

http://www.turbobuicks.com/forums/waiti ... story.html

It's all relative, people.
O.J.
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 3024
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2007 10:13 am

Postby TAsunder » Tue Aug 19, 2008 2:03 pm

Though he wasn't an olympian, I think Deion Sanders is probably as good an athlete, probably better, than any decathlon athlete. I say that without knowing a lot about the specific accomplishments of decathlon athletes other than being able to throw stuff, jump, and run.

Sanders was arguably the greatest cornerback of all time and a very good major-league baseball player. He also ran for the track team in college.

I don't think decathlon athletes are tested to anywhere near this degree. Just because different parts of their bodies are involved than phelps doesn't mean that they are better athletes. Lewis didn't even do the decathlon yet he was surely one of the great athletes in the history of the olympics.

There are sports where tremendous athleticism is involved in playing at a high level. Basketball, Soccer, and Tennis come to mind. Any sport where you have to do a lot of jumping, run or be on the move constantly during play, and have great coordination really.
TAsunder
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 4783
Joined: Tue Oct 16, 2001 1:21 pm
Location: Near East Side, Madison

Postby TheBookPolice » Tue Aug 19, 2008 2:06 pm

I'll see your Deion Sanders and raise you one Bo Jackson.
TheBookPolice
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 8433
Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2006 1:09 pm
Location: The mystical Far East

Postby fisticuffs » Tue Aug 19, 2008 2:08 pm

Best Athlete ever?....
Image

And the Greek Games are a far better test of complete athletic ability than any "Decathalon".
fisticuffs
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 7872
Joined: Sat Jul 24, 2004 2:49 pm
Location: Slightly outside of Madison

Postby Henry Vilas » Tue Aug 19, 2008 2:09 pm

Jim Thorpe.
Henry Vilas
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 20377
Joined: Wed Sep 04, 2002 8:57 pm
Location: Name sez it all

Postby Stu Levitan » Tue Aug 19, 2008 10:48 pm

Phelps is the most successful Olympian ever.

Jesse Owens is the greatest.
Stu Levitan
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 3312
Joined: Sat Feb 08, 2003 8:40 pm
Location: Studio B of the historic Abernathy Building

Next

Return to Sports, Recreation & Biking

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

moviesmusiceats
Select a Movie
Select a Theater


commentsViewedForum
  ISTHMUS FLICKR
Created with flickr badge.

Promotions Contact us Privacy Policy Jobs Newsletters RSS
Collapse Photo Bar