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Is it fair to call Phelps greatest olympic athlete

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Postby MeatStick » Tue Aug 26, 2008 2:57 pm

TheBookPolice wrote:I'll see your Deion Sanders and raise you one Bo Jackson.


Word. I actually cried when I heard Bo would never play football again. Deion was great as well.

As far as this greatest athlete/Olympian is concerned. Phelps is a great athlete, of that there is little doubt.

I like Tiger, but comparing him to Phelps is way out of line. Tiger is a great GOLFER - very little athleticism is required compared to an Olympic caliber swimmer. I doubt very seriously Tiger has swung a club until he shit himself, or his lungs felt like they were going to explode. While Tiger may be a great athlete, he hasn’t shown it other than his ability to hit a golf ball – far.

Hand/eye coordination does not make you a great athlete, look at the millions of grossly obese Wii players that could kick your ass at a video game, but work up a sweat walking to the fridge for another Dew. Hand/eye coordination is a requisite to be good in most sports, but again – Olympic Swimmer / Golfer – no comparison.

Greatest Olympian? Jesse Owens. Went into the heart of Germany and kicked ass. That’s a pressure player.

For my money, I’ll go with the Tri-Athlete as the most well rounded athletes. Swimming, running, biking - people can get by being good at one discipline and so-so at the other two, but the elite tri-athletes are good at all three. I’m talking a real Tri-Athlete who trains for and accomplishes a 2.4-mile open water swim, a 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile marathon run. Most athletes would have trouble completing one of those events in a day. I’ve done two of them, but I’ll be damned if I’m running 26 miles without someone chasing me with a gun….

http://ironman.com/news
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Postby O.J. » Tue Aug 26, 2008 3:21 pm

MeatStick wrote:

For my money, I’ll go with the Tri-Athlete as the most well rounded athletes.


You had me until this. Tri-athletes, by definition, can't be more well rounded than decathletes. This isn't meant as a rip on the former; completing an Ironman might be the single most impressive athletic feat there is.
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Postby jjoyce » Tue Aug 26, 2008 3:27 pm

MeatStick wrote:I doubt very seriously Tiger has swung a club until he shit himself, or his lungs felt like they were going to explode.


That happens to me when I run around the block, am I a great athlete?

Actually, Tiger Woods often hits hundreds of golf balls in a day and my guess is that the final shot he takes in practice is better than what 80% of the pros on tour can pull off. How is that feat alone not athletic?

Assessing athleticism requires putting varying degrees of value on various skills, which is why you wouldn't really be able to gauge who the best is until you pit them in some games none of them specializes in. I suggest the following non-trad decathlon:

- Kitten ball, unlimited arc home run derby
- Mile foot race
- Keg toss for distance
- Tree climbing race
- Frisbee golf
- Typing race
- Free throw contest
- Skating race around a standard hockey rink
- Set of tennis with '70s-style wood rackets
- Lawn darts
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Postby boston_jeff » Tue Aug 26, 2008 4:20 pm

Saying poker isn't a sport I can take, but saying that Tiger Woods isn't a great athlete I will never understand. That's just crazy.
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Re: Is it fair to call Phelps greatest olympic athlete

Postby Ducatista » Tue Aug 26, 2008 5:40 pm

butters wrote:Put these people on dry land as see how "Great" they are.


As a swimmer, I see it the other way: "Pft. Toss these people into the deep end and see how 'Great' they are."

Basketball players are the greatest athletes, IMO, but hockey players are right up there, having mastered a foreign element. And water polo players... damn. That sport is brutal.
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Postby MeatStick » Wed Aug 27, 2008 12:54 pm

O.J. wrote:...Tri-athletes, by definition, can't be more well rounded than decathletes. This isn't meant as a rip on the former; completing an Ironman might be the single most impressive athletic feat there is.

I don't see decathletes anywhere near the water, and their events are over two days - with rests in between each event. Tri-Athletes complete the Ironman in hours, not days. They even run while changing their shoes when transitioning from the water to the bike, bike to the marathon.

Don't get me wrong, I admire decathletes as well, but they run (a little - most die hard on the 1,500 meter), jump a little, and throw a variety of objects for distance. Sorry, no comparison (IMO - which is what makes this fun).

jjoyce wrote:That happens to me when I run around the block, am I a great athlete?


No, that makes you sad...

jjoyce wrote:Actually, Tiger Woods often hits hundreds of golf balls in a day and my guess is that the final shot he takes in practice is better than what 80% of the pros on tour can pull off. How is that feat alone not athletic?

Compared to an Olympic caliber swimmer that practices and practices until they can barely pull themselves from the pool?

I equate golf to playing pool, there is a skill level involved, but it's not really athletic. Hint - you don't see people the size of John Daly or Minnisota Fats in the Olympic 100 meter freestyle.

Tiger may be a great athlete, but being phenominal at golf doesn't make him so in my opinion.

jjoyce wrote:- Kitten ball, unlimited arc home run derby
- Mile foot race
- Keg toss for distance
- Tree climbing race
- Frisbee golf
- Typing race
- Free throw contest
- Skating race around a standard hockey rink
- Set of tennis with '70s-style wood rackets
- Lawn darts


If you call some of those "sports" requiring athleticism, you've again proved my point.

boston_jeff wrote:Saying poker isn't a sport I can take...


I would hope so.

boston_jeff wrote:...but saying that Tiger Woods isn't a great athlete I will never understand. That's just crazy.


I don't know if he is or not, just saying being great at golf doesn't make you a great athlete.

One of the best golfers (2 handicap) I've ever played with was much like jjoyce - he was a great pool player as well, was he in the least bit "athletic?" No, even he would say so in between beers and cigars (I think he was about 60% body fat).
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Postby Shipley » Wed Aug 27, 2008 1:47 pm

This seems all very subjective and boring.

This one guy swims fast. so fast, they gave him a bunch of big gold coins to hang around his mantle.

One guy can hit a ball with a stick really far, getting it perfectly in a hole. for doing this many times, they gave him a nike hat.

Whats the difference?
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Postby Ducatista » Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:16 pm

Shipley wrote:This seems all very subjective and boring.

Ha, this from a video game guy. (No disrespect, it just struck me as funny.)
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Postby boston_jeff » Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:34 pm

Is being the best athlete all about how hard the sport is (in some people's minds) and how fit the athlete is?

I would argue that its a combination of winning, high skill level/talent, and the difficulty of attaining those skills vs. peers in the sport. You may not equate golf with a triathalon or decathalon, but that's not the point. NO ONE CAN DO WHAT TIGER WOODS DOES. Fat guys can play sports, heck someone already brought up Babe Ruth as baseball's best player ever (he was). "Out of shape" looking people play in all the major sports (hockey probably has the lowest percentage). It doesn't mean that they are not great or can not be the greatest at their sports or even of all athletes.

If this was about who looks best in a bodysuit or some kind of bullshit quantification of what sport is most difficult overall, then fine, maybe some are more athletic than others. I think its about who's the best in specific athletic competitions. Phelps is the best olympian (considering he dominates across all events in his sport and has won the most competitions), Ruth the best ballplayer (best slugger/pitcher combination, big winner), Tiger the best golfer (even if you erroneously think golf isn't a sport).
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Postby O.J. » Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:40 pm

MeatStick, even though I don't believe it to be true, it's reaonable to make a case for tri-athletes being the best athletes, just not the most well-rounded. Pretend that a brand new sport was just invented and that this required participants to utilize practically every conceivable notion of athleticism to be successful. You honestly think a tri-athlete, rather than a decathlete, would be best prepared to handle such a task?
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Postby boston_jeff » Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:46 pm

athlete-a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina.
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Re: Is it fair to call Phelps greatest olympic athlete

Postby supaunknown » Wed Aug 27, 2008 3:48 pm

Ducatista wrote:Basketball players are the greatest athletes, IMO, but hockey players are right up there, having mastered a foreign element.

Hockey above basketball. From my limited perpsective as an amateur I'd say hockey requires a level of hand/eye/body coordination equal to that of basketball, but an even greater amount of endurance. Running the court in basketball ain't easy*, but hockey is even more grueling - maybe due to the heavier equipment one must wear to avoid being killed.

Any sport that's simply a race to the finish where the winner is likely separated from the loser by hundreths of a second, well, whatever. That being said, Usain Bolt is the fastest human I've ever seen.

*Don't even try to mention soccer. It has too much zoneish standing around + too little use of the arms/hands.
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Re: Is it fair to call Phelps greatest olympic athlete

Postby boston_jeff » Wed Aug 27, 2008 3:51 pm

supaunknown wrote:
Ducatista wrote:Basketball players are the greatest athletes, IMO, but hockey players are right up there, having mastered a foreign element.

Hockey above basketball. From my limited perpsective as an amateur I'd say hockey requires a level of hand/eye/body coordination equal to that of basketball, but an even greater amount of endurance. Running the court in basketball ain't easy*, but hockey is even more grueling - maybe due to the heavier equipment one must wear to avoid being killed.

Any sport that's simply a race to the finish where the winner is likely separated from the loser by hundreths of a second, well, whatever. That being said, Usain Bolt is the fastest human I've ever seen.

*Don't even try to mention soccer. It has too much zoneish standing around + too little use of the arms/hands.


Hockey players shift lines, hoops players not so much.
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Postby Veeder » Wed Aug 27, 2008 4:16 pm

fisticuffs wrote:Best Athlete ever?....
Image

And the Greek Games are a far better test of complete athletic ability than any "Decathalon".


Dude, stop stealing my pic humor.
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Postby Henry Vilas » Wed Aug 27, 2008 4:16 pm

Way back in the mid-Sixties, I had dorm mates who were on various UW teams: football, baseball and crew. Those out for crew were the true athletes.
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