Saturday, August 16, 2008

What's the big deal?

Josh, you knew this was coming...

Ok, so what is the big deal with Michael Phelps?  Yes, he's a good, actually great swimmer.  Yes is very built (that dude is cut!), yes he has won a million gold medals... but I don't see the big deal.  

Let me explain.

My friend Josh said that he was the greatest Olympic athlete of all time.  I totally and complete disagree with that statement.  In his defense, he did say that he makes swimming entertaining.  That I agree with.

After all, he's just swimming.  Unless I'm mistaken, that's just one event.  I think and this my personal thought, but someone who should have the title of greatest Olympic athlete should do more than one sport.

What about the decathlon?  Thats like 100 events (ok, maybe just 10) and it shows your true ability to excel in a number of sporting events.

Also, Josh tried to hit me where he thought it would hurt.  He compared Phelps to Lance Armstrong.  Big deal.  That guy isn't my hero, plus I mountain bike.  He then pulled the "Lance is a triathlete" card too.  With that said, I think that Lance is more of an athlete than Phelps is.  But I would never say the worlds greatest athlete.

Lance did do triathlons when he was younger too, lying about his age so he could race, beating pros, turning pro himself when he turned 19.  That's cool, but he's not my role model (not to say that Phelps is Josh's, I'm just saying).  I mean, the guy has some issues.

I don't know... I'm not trying to pick a fight, I don't even mean to be nit picky, I just think that saying he is (or even among) the best Olympic athletes of all time is a stretch.

I want to see him run.  I want to see him bike.  I want to see him do some more events.  Oh, and I didn't mean to use running and biking in a way that reflects a triathlon as being the qualifications of a true athlete but I think that they do more than Phelps could do.

Actually, speaking of triathlons, let me give you some stats...  A full triathlon goes like this:
- Swim 2.4 miles
- Bike 112 miles
- Run 26.2 miles

You have to be pretty in shape to do that.  Really, think about that for a minute.  Those should all be separate events but they are all combined for one event!

For the Ironman Triathlon the record is something like just over 8 hours.  Holy cow!

Oh, you know what I like a lot... adventure races!  They do so many different things!  Orienteering (compass course), mountain biking, kayaking, trail running and rock climbing.  These people have to be on the move the whole time and there are no lanes, there are no, tracks, they just have their compass and their water, and sometimes a tent and stuff but super light.

Those guys (and girls) must be intense!  Like Bear Grylls!  Running, navigating, having to "survive."  Cool huh?!

Look, I apologize for ranting and raving and you probably think that if I don't care about him, why do I go through the trouble to bash him (gently).  Well, I don't know. 

Overall: I think Phelps is a phenomenal swimmer.  Incredible!  He could probably outswim anything short of a dolphin.  But to say he is one of the greatest Olympic athletes of all time?  No.  I don't care if he won 100 gold medals in one day.  He only does one event.  

Further suggested reading:


Joshua said...
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Joshua said...

You didn't read that first article (TIME) did you. I only saw Track and Field athletes on the list and according to that scoring Phelps would blow out everyone on the list with 182 points. That being said, the second article's author put Carl Lewis as the best athlete, when statistically, according to the first article (only counting track and field) he's only the third best. I understand what you're trying to say, and I'm sure scientists and true analysts (not journalists or biased athletes) could make sense of it all. Including the comparison of generational and technological differences. But come on man, let people be inspired. Michael Phelps was never quoted as saying "I'm' the greatest Olympian ever." By gold medals in one Olympics; yeah, he's the best. Other statistics are not being challenged; most golds in one Olympics is the premise. Don't be such an anti-hero and let people be inspired. It's a GOOD thing my friend. And lastly, why in the world would you base a criticism of an athlete that's obviously done more than 100 of us could ever do and then say that "Josh said", no no, I just saw some amazing races where one man was perfect in all 8. That merits the term "Best" my opinion anyway.


Joanna said...
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Joshua said...

Here's another thought. Who else has been called the "Greatest Athlete" in the world, or other such arenas and times? Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, etc. Did anyone say greatest "endurance" athlete or "strongest" athlete? No. Same with Michael Phelps. Just like the others, any who challenges him comes up short and gets beat (for a time anyway). This is what makes all these men worthy of being called the "Best". So get a Triathlete to challenge Jordan or Federer in their sports. No challenge, it's not about endurance, it's about skill. "Athlete" isn't synonymous with "endurance". And to compare physical exertion, well, let's get the astronauts involved, let's talk to the Army Rangers or the Navy Seals or the mom that picked a car up off her baby. If we're going to blow it wide open and out of context, then you might as well include those people too. Again, in proper context, Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympian (i.e. most gold medals in one Olympics). And swimming is not easy, if you were ranting about ping pong or shooting, I'd understand a little more.

P.S. sorry for all the deletes, I accidently put my comments under Joanna's account.

Joshua said...

I said 182 before, it's actually 148.5. Still beats the others, and he'll probably get at least 4 or 5 more golds minimum in his career. Not that I'm a real analyst.