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  • The Greatest Athlete of All-time

    This is my idea for a great offseason series of polls. Since it gets to be pretty dead around here during the offseason, I'm hoping this would be a way drive some conversations. Given the response I got from one mention in another thread, it appears that there is quite a bit of interest, and that this will definitely drive some interesting conversations.

    I'm not going to actually start until the offseason, but I wanted to get this thread started a little early. First of all, I am compiling a list of about 120 athletes that I think should be on the list, since there are some sports in which I couldn't name a single athlete for, and I'm sure I'll miss some other ones, I am going to post that list and then get suggestions on who I've missed. From the list of athletes that I missed, I will use some polls to narrow it down to 8, which will give me 128 athletes for us to vote on. From there I plan on using the cafe poll section, in a way similar to what Brent does for PoTY, to have people vote and cut the list down to 32. At 32, I'll put them in brackets and I'll post head to head polls the rest of the way, until we have one athlete left at the end.

    As I mentioned, this should get some good conversations going because, for example, how do you compare what Babe Ruth did to Michael Jordan or Muhammad Ali. I think it will be interesting.

    Feel free to suggest possible nominees for the list that I might miss, and sometime after the Frozen 4, probably close to the end of April I will post my list.
    Having a clear conscience just means you have a bad memory or you had a boring weekend.

    RIP - Kirby

  • #2
    Re: The Greatest Athlete of All-time

    One of my nominations for the top ten would be Babe Didrickson, since she was so very good at so many different sports for such a long time. Not clear if you intend to mix genders on the same list or have one list for each gender.

    Jim Thorpe is my initial nomination for # 1 across all sports and all times based on a 30-second search of my memory...I'm open to change it once I hear other nominations.

    also, when you say "all time" that is quite a span of years as well as geography....not sure how we will get data for much earlier than 1896, say (unless the hot tub time machine tells us there was this Greek guy in 735 BC who was totally awesome). Can we nominate people from mythology like Hercules or Achilles? Jousting champions like Sir Gawain or Sir Lancelot were reputed to be?

    Myself, I'd be partial to Olympic gold-medal winners in the decathlon for men, hepthathlon for women, since they clearly have to excel in multiple events to win. So many of the people who first come to mind might be great at basketball, minor league in baseball, average at golf. So many great "athletes" specialized so much in only one sport.

    Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders also come to mind quickly as being very good at multiple sports. Wilt Chamberlain I believe also did quite well in track and field events while in college.

    I'll keep my eyes open for other lists along similar lines. Sounds like a fun project.
    "Hope is a good thing; maybe the best of things."

    "Beer is a sign that God loves us and wants us to be happy." -- Benjamin Franklin

    "Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy." -- W. B. Yeats

    "People generally are most impatient with those flaws in others about which they are most ashamed of in themselves." - folk wisdom

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    • #3
      Re: The Greatest Athlete of All-time

      Wilt Chamberlain gets a nod. Decathlete, plus a pretty good basketball player.

      However, I think I'd put Jim Thorpe above him.
      CCT '77 & '78
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      ”Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”
      - Benjamin Franklin

      Banned from the St. Lawrence University Facebook page - March 2016 (But I got better).

      I want to live forever. So far, so good.

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      • #4
        Re: The Greatest Athlete of All-time

        Muggsy Bogues.
        If you want to be a BADGER, just come along with me

        BRING BACK PAT RICHTER!!!


        At his graduation ceremony from the U of Minnesota, my cousin got a keychain. When asked what UW gave her for graduation, my sister said, "A degree from a University that matters."

        Canned music is a pathetic waste of your time.

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        • #5
          Re: The Greatest Athlete of All-time

          Originally posted by FreshFish View Post
          One of my nominations for the top ten would be Babe Didrickson, since she was so very good at so many different sports for such a long time. Not clear if you intend to mix genders on the same list or have one list for each gender.

          Jim Thorpe is my initial nomination for # 1 across all sports and all times based on a 30-second search of my memory...I'm open to change it once I hear other nominations.

          also, when you say "all time" that is quite a span of years as well as geography....not sure how we will get data for much earlier than 1896, say (unless the hot tub time machine tells us there was this Greek guy in 735 BC who was totally awesome). Can we nominate people from mythology like Hercules or Achilles? Jousting champions like Sir Gawain or Sir Lancelot were reputed to be?

          Myself, I'd be partial to Olympic gold-medal winners in the decathlon for men, hepthathlon for women, since they clearly have to excel in multiple events to win. So many of the people who first come to mind might be great at basketball, minor league in baseball, average at golf. So many great "athletes" specialized so much in only one sport.

          Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders also come to mind quickly as being very good at multiple sports. Wilt Chamberlain I believe also did quite well in track and field events while in college.

          I'll keep my eyes open for other lists along similar lines. Sounds like a fun project.
          I guess when I say all-time, it really isn't all-time, since we don't have information going back much further than 100 years, that will limit us. Other than that, I don't want any limits, male or female (Babe Didrikson is already on my list ), and any sport, from the mainstream North American sports to "Olympic" sports like track and field or swimming. My list is currently at about 90 athletes, so I'm guessing that I have most of the mainstream ones covered. As of now I have athletes that played: Basketball, Hockey, Baseball, Football, Swimming, Golf, Track and Field, Tennis, Auto Racing, Horse Racing, and Gymnastics. I don't know a single soccer player ever or anyone that has played sports like rugby or cricket that may need to be considered.
          Having a clear conscience just means you have a bad memory or you had a boring weekend.

          RIP - Kirby

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          • #6
            Re: The Greatest Athlete of All-time

            I'd also include Al Oerter if only for longevity at the highest level!


            I know there is some ridiculously good cricket player that everyone raves about, I can't recall who though. Men's field hockey is huge in Pakistan and India, from what I hear, and they must have someone amazing to nominate.

            For men's soccer, you have to at least include Pele! I've seen film of him and he is pretty amazing.

            The Wikipedia article on BDZ says she was named the "10th Greatest North American Athlete of the 20th Century by ESPN, and the 9th Greatest Athlete of the 20th Century by the Associated Press," and so if you can find those lists you might be able to add some prominent names to yours.
            Last edited by FreshFish; 03-28-2012, 03:23 PM.
            "Hope is a good thing; maybe the best of things."

            "Beer is a sign that God loves us and wants us to be happy." -- Benjamin Franklin

            "Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy." -- W. B. Yeats

            "People generally are most impatient with those flaws in others about which they are most ashamed of in themselves." - folk wisdom

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: The Greatest Athlete of All-time

              I'm tempted to include John Mayasich.
              Having a clear conscience just means you have a bad memory or you had a boring weekend.

              RIP - Kirby

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              • #8
                Re: The Greatest Athlete of All-time

                Since he hasn't been caught yet, Armstrong (cycling) should be on the list.
                If you don't change the world today, how can it be any better tomorrow?

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                • #9
                  Re: The Greatest Athlete of All-time

                  Originally posted by LynahFan View Post
                  Since he hasn't been caught yet, Armstrong (cycling) should be on the list.
                  He's on it. Sorry, forgot to include cycling in my list of sports I've covered so far.
                  Having a clear conscience just means you have a bad memory or you had a boring weekend.

                  RIP - Kirby

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                  • #10
                    Re: The Greatest Athlete of All-time

                    Takeru Kobayashi, Dick Weber and Michael Olowokandi
                    Hollywood Hair Care Tip for Infinity (Directly from Hollywood himself)
                    when its minus 20 and u have to go outside.. make sure u wear a winter hat as the mohawk does not enjoy the winter weathe(r)
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                    • #11
                      Re: The Greatest Athlete of All-time

                      Hoven.

                      Forklift racing is a sport, right?
                      Cornell University Men's Hockey
                      NCAA Champions: 1967, 1970
                      ECAC Champions: 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1973, 1980, 1986, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2005, 2010
                      Ivy League Champions: 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1977, 1978, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1996, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2012, 2014, 2018

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                      • #12
                        Re: The Greatest Athlete of All-time

                        Joe Thornton. Wait, he got traded... nevermind.
                        Quinnipiac Bobcats
                        2012-13, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2018-19, 2020-21, 2021-22 ECAC Regular Season Champions
                        2013 East Regional Champions, Frozen Four
                        2014 East Regional
                        2015 West Regional
                        2016 ECAC Tournament Champions, East Regional Champions, Frozen Four
                        2019 Midwest Regional
                        2021 West Regional
                        2022 Midwest Regional

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                        • #13
                          Re: The Greatest Athlete of All-time

                          Brandon Inge.
                          Go Green! Go White! Go State!

                          1966, 1986, 2007

                          Go Tigers, Go Packers, Go Red Wings, Go Pistons

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                          • #14
                            Re: The Greatest Athlete of All-time

                            Originally posted by bigblue_dl View Post
                            I'm tempted to include John Mayasich.
                            Of course.

                            Jesse Owens
                            Go Gophers!

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                            • #15
                              Re: The Greatest Athlete of All-time

                              Originally posted by 5mn_Major View Post
                              Of course.

                              Jesse Owens
                              and Carl Lewis as well. One interesting debate would be "athletic performance" in general and another would be "athletic performance under pressure." For Owens to perform in 1936 Berlin the way he did was quite remarkable.
                              "Hope is a good thing; maybe the best of things."

                              "Beer is a sign that God loves us and wants us to be happy." -- Benjamin Franklin

                              "Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy." -- W. B. Yeats

                              "People generally are most impatient with those flaws in others about which they are most ashamed of in themselves." - folk wisdom

                              Comment

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