Showing posts with label Jesse Owens. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jesse Owens. Show all posts

Monday, August 25, 2008

Michael Phelps and "Greatest Olympic Athlete" Semantics

By T.R. Slyder,

I can assure you that I am as excited as anyone else to see Michael Phelps win every race he is in. I hope he sets the record for most gold medals by any Olympian ever, and I hope he adds to that total in London. But let's not get caught up in saying that he is the "Best Olympian" ever as a result of his medals tally. Upon winning his 10th gold medal he will be the most decorated Olympian in history, but not necessarily the best.

His sport offers more medals than any other sport. There are four different strokes, varied distances, relays at varied distances, and medleys- both individual and relay at varied distances. While Phelps could finish this Olympics perfectly, that does not prove that he is the best athlete in the history of the games.

If a US Softball player hits a home run in every at-bat for 3 straight Olympics she could finish with, at most, three gold medals over a 12 year span, a total that Phelps can achieve in two days. Athletic talent and medal quantity are not synonymous. Phelps will be the most decorated Olympic athlete, but that does not make him the best.

To say what Phelps did is more important than what Jesse Owens did in Berlin is offensive to all Americans.