Best American Athlete Ever

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by TSE, Sep 11, 2009.

  1. TSE macrumors 68030

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    #1
    Who is the best American athlete of all time? For now this will just be a thread, but I am thinking of doing a poll once there are enough suggestions. This can be for any sport, just the athlete needs to be American. The reason? Because if we included anywhere else, people would be pulling people that participated in the Olympics 2000 years ago. :p

    I think it is quite close between Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth. While Michael Jordan is perhaps the best basketball player ever and most well known athlete in America, Babe Ruth popularized the original American sport of baseball and is perhaps the best baseball player ever.

    I am going to have to go with Babe Ruth just because not only was he perhaps the best player of his sport like Jordan is, but he also helped pioneer baseball from a low-scoring, pitching oriented game to a more well rounded offensive game too. He changed the sport more than Michael did.
     
  2. Iscariot macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

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    #2
    I'd go with:

    Sugar Ray Johnson (boxer)
    Bart Conner (gymnast)
    Mary Lou Retton (gymnast)
     
  3. Little HZ macrumors regular

    Little HZ

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    #3
    Triple-Crown winner Secretariat! OK, OK, you probably mean people :rolleyes:

    So, in that case: Jim Thorpe
     
  4. kymac macrumors 6502a

    kymac

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    #4
    the context of 'athlete' is hard to decipher. every sport has different athletic requirments. overall, the greatest athlete would be a gymnast. i may be a little biased, but gymnastics is hands down, the toughest sport in the world.
     
  5. gilkisson macrumors 65816

    gilkisson

    #5
    It would, without a doubt, have to be this guy:
     

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  6. steve2112 macrumors 68040

    steve2112

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    If you're looking for pure athletic ability, it's Jim Thorpe, no question. He may not have the popularity or cultural impact of some others, but he had tons of athletic ability. How many other people have won gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon in the Olympics, and played football and baseball professionally?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Thorpe
     
  7. gibbz macrumors 68030

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    #7
    +1. Representing for Oklahoma.
     
  8. Slucko macrumors member

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    #8
    Jim Thorpe
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Thorpe

    Considered one of the most versatile athletes in modern sports, he won Olympic gold medals in the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon, played American football at the collegiate and professional levels, and also played professional baseball and basketball.

    Also named athlete of the century and half century

    I might add I know about Jim Thorpe due to my home town, also named Jim Thorpe. So I can say with little doubt he fits the definition of an athlete.
     
  9. MacHipster macrumors 6502

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    #9
    Jim Thorpe, Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders because they all played multiple sports.
     
  10. steve2112 macrumors 68040

    steve2112

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    Glad to see Jim Thorpe getting some respect in here. I thought ESPN lost their minds when he wasn't #1 in their "Top 100 athletes of the 20th century" thing a while back. (Well, that and they put a freakin horse in the top 10)

    To elaborate further, here are the events in the decathlon:

    100 meters, long jump, shot put, high jump, and 400 meters in day one.

    Day two is 110 meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, and 1500 meter run. And btw, Thorpe had never even competed in the Javelin before the 1912 Olympics.

    The Pentathlon in 1912 was: long jump, javelin throw, 200 meter, discus throw, and 1500 meter run.
     
  11. fireshot91 macrumors 601

    fireshot91

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    #11
    Best American Athlete is still very broad.

    I mean, if you say the best in one sport sure, but you can't compare Babe Ruth to Michael Jordan...they were both amazing at what they did, but they (most likely) sucked at what the other person did.
     
  12. njl macrumors regular

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    #12
    fyi

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/sportSkills
     
  13. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604

    thegoldenmackid

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    #14
    iThink that is hard to establish the difference between sports talent and impact. Michael Jordan has had a greater impact on his sport then possibly anyone because of advertising and marketing, as well as his talent. Jackie Robinson was a mid-range to decent Hall of Famer, but had a greater impact on the game then many who were greater then him.

    With all that being said, if I was playing a single sport and needed to win; I'd pick Mike...but that doesn't seem really that applicable to non-team sports.
     
  14. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    Lance Armstrong; 7 straight Tours de France is an absolutely mind-boggling achievement.
     
  15. TSE thread starter macrumors 68030

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    #16
  16. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604

    thegoldenmackid

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    #17
    It is, and I have the greatest amount of respect for the man, but you have to wonder, particularly in cycling what some would have done with better equipment and the money that goes into the sport, particularly Lance. I can only partially understand the physical pain that a stage, let alone three weeks has on one's body, but, particularly in cycling the equipment and funding really creates a gap.

    Given that I grew up in his "hometown," bicycle shopped at Richardson Bike Mart and have my yellow Livestrong bracelet on my left arm as it always is, that all comes from someone that is a huge Lance fan. Also, he really needs to win next year; that would really solidify his comeback as being a victory.
     
  17. Signal-11 macrumors 65816

    Signal-11

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    No way, dude. Gymnastics is great exercise and maybe even a competitive activity for some but I have a hard time considering it a game, much less a sport. I used to be able to do a decent iron cross when I was 18 or so, just because I thought it was a cool, but to have a bunch of people judge on whether my cross is better than some other dude's. That's a little fruity.

    Wrestling is a purer and by far a much tougher sport.

    Babe Ruth was a great ball player, but an athlete?

    My vote goes to Jim Thorpe.

    Greatest single athlete of modern times, regardless of nationality, no brainer: Alexander Karelin.
     
  18. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604

    thegoldenmackid

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    #19
    Agreed, they really need to clarify "wrestling" and cycling seems a tad bit more difficult then what it is given credit for. Also, Golf? If we are talking about being good at something that's pretty hard to do.
     
  19. TSE thread starter macrumors 68030

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    #20
    I think the two hardest sports overall would be either Boxing or Wrestling. Wrestling I think takes more preparation and technique, but boxing takes more heart and toughness.

    I don't consider cagefighting a sport, I mean, do we consider the gladiators of Rome athletes?
     
  20. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    I saw the title of this thread and clicked just so I could give a nod to Jim Thorpe. I had no idea so many other people see his greatness, too.

    I'm not altogether against including Secretariat in a list of amazing athletes. Every time I watch the '73 Belmont I get a little choked up and shed a tear. And goosebumps galore.
     
  21. Iscariot macrumors 68030

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    Gymnastics lower than basketball for strength? Is EPSN retarded?

    This is gymnastic strength: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xj48SlxgU1Q
     
  22. fivepoint macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

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    #23
    I'd have to say for pure difficulty of obtaining a certain accomplishment, Cael Sanderson becoming the first and only Collegiate wrestler ever to go undefeated and win 4 national titles is at the top of my list. Even 4-time world champion and 2-time Olympic champion John Smith had 7 losses in college. Truly amazing. Can you imagine a world champion boxer going 4 years undefeated having over 40 fights per year? The odds are ridiculous against it.

    Agreed. Ranking Basketball, Football, and Ice Hockey higher than wrestling in difficulty is ridiculous! Interesting chart, but I disagree with a lot of it.



    +1
     
  23. .Andy macrumors 68030

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    #24
    I've always had a soft spot for michael johnson. He was running when I was at my peak and was my idol.
     
  24. Signal-11 macrumors 65816

    Signal-11

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    #25
    No, but the Greeks considered the pankration a real athletic endeavor and the western organized athletic tradition more or less started with them.

    For pure physical toughness, in terms of being able to take physical damage while still being able to function, muay Thai >>> boxing.

    In terms of overall athletics, MMA > boxing or wrestling.

    IMO, the term "cagefighting" indicates to me that the person using the term hasn't really looked into the sport and is basing his or her opinion on preconceived notions.

    Personally, I vastly prefer the ring instead of the cage in MMA, like they do in Japan. The ring is usually less of a factor than a cage, thus the competition is purer in form.

    Sorry, but Cael Sanderson isn't even in the same league as Alexander Karelin. To compare Karelin and Sanderson would be like comparing the big leagues with the little league. Karelin went 14 years in major international competition without being defeated. He went seven years without having a SINGLE POINT scored on him.

    Basketball, Football and Hockey are merely games. Wrestling is as close to a real sport as it gets.
     

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