Saturday, August 16, 2008

Is Michael Phelps The Greatest Athlete?

I waited 36 years for this. Somebody has finally beaten Mark Spitz record for most gold medals in one Olympic games.

Not to take anything away from Mark Spitz and his wonderful accomplishment but I always found him to be a bit arrogant. I like Michael Phelps. I love his attitude and demeanor.

Will this make Michael Phelps the greatest athlete of all time? Does he have the star-power of a Mark Spitz, or a Bruce Jenner, or a Lance Armstrong or Tiger Woods?

The first question may be debatable. But he definitely has to be considered to be one of the greatest athletes. What Phelps and Spitz did is remarkable given the recovery time between each race. If mere mortals swam one of these races and tried to come back a few hours later and not only swim the event but actually be great enough to be the best in the field...that is really something. I had first hand knowledge of this because both of my kids were involved in competitive swimming for a couple years. Jenner and the legendary Bob Mathias in my mind is right there because they had to be great at ten events...not just one.

The star power question is something altogether different. Spitz knew how to play the media and he even managed to keep himself in the news all these years. Jenner took his great looks and capitalized as an actor and commentator. And Armstrong and Tiger? By the sheer fact that they were at it for several years kept them in the public consciousness. We see Tiger golfing practically every week. We saw Armstrong year after year at the Tour De France. We may not get interested in Phelps again for another four years.

By Allen Bacon, Editor, The Daily Bosco

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