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View Full Version : Michael phelps is NOT greatest olympian ever b/c....



Charge
August 6th, 2012, 03:30 PM
This is not my opinion, but have heard this argued multiple times the past few days

He is swimming in a upper class white dominated sport. If swimming were more accessible to inner city black kids then he would have more competition and a deeper talent pool To compete against and he would not come close to his medal count.

Everyone can run, so usain bolt or carl Lewis are the best Olympians ever bc they accomplished what they did against the unquestionable best the world could possible throw at them

What say you?

scyfreestyler
August 6th, 2012, 03:42 PM
Delusional?

Allen Stark
August 6th, 2012, 03:54 PM
It is impossible to compare the merits of one sport to another.Phelps showed an ability to focus and will to win that is right up there with the best of the best.

Charge
August 6th, 2012, 04:01 PM
I agree, but what's The rebuttal?

That Guy
August 6th, 2012, 04:06 PM
I agree, but what's The rebuttal?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_multiple_Olympic_medalists

scyfreestyler
August 6th, 2012, 04:14 PM
If swimming were more accessible to inner city black kids then he would have more competition and a deeper talent pool To compete against and he would not come close to his medal count.



I don't know, are "inner city black kids" known to be better swimmers than "upper class whites"? Where did this factoid come from anyhow?

It's certainly possible that somewhere out there exists a young man that could have beaten Phelps routinely had they put in all of the work that he has. But of what value is such an argument? Seems pointless and impossible to prove.

Rob Copeland
August 6th, 2012, 04:20 PM
what's The rebuttal?Who needs a rebuttal? It’s all just sports talk hyperbole. Unless there is some sort of subjective criteria for the crowning of the greatest Olympian ever (such as medal count), then it’s all junk science.

As to the point “Everyone can run”, in the same regard “Everyone can swim.” However, not everyone has access to world class facilities and coaches and very few people in any sport are willing to make the sacrifices to become the greatest.

My vote for greatest ever is Edoardo Mangiarotti of Italy in his 24 year Olympic career he earned 6 Gold, 5 Silver and 2 Bronze in Fencing. Anyone with a sharp pointy blade that can run me through, gets my vote:duel:

knelson
August 6th, 2012, 04:21 PM
The fact that everyone can run seems like a pretty weak argument. The best athlete has to necessarily be in a sport that everyone can do? Gee, that narrows things down a little. That's like saying Einstein wasn't really that great a thinker because not everyone understands physics!

Why Not
August 6th, 2012, 04:48 PM
If he was a mexican he would have missed the relay medals.....

Rob Copeland
August 6th, 2012, 04:54 PM
so usain bolt or carl Lewis are the best Olympians everBy many measures they are not even the best Track and Field athletes. Paavo Nurmi (The Flying Finn) has more Olympic medals than either Bolt or Lewis. And Ray Ewry has more individual gold (8) than all 3.

By medal count, Phelps has 22 to Thompson’s and Torres’s 12 in swimming, almost twice as many.

Lewis needs 2 more medals to just catch Nurmi, not likely.

Bolt needs 8 more, possibly 2 more this week, which leaves 2016 and 2020 just to catch Nurmi, and 2024, 2028 and 2032 to pass him by a margin equal to Phelps'.

Charge
August 6th, 2012, 04:54 PM
Same for bolt, re the relays.

It's a stupid argument, I agree. So the best LB in NFL history isn't really the best bc all those south American, European, Russian Nd Australian kids didn't get the chance to play?

Not to mention swimming is cheaper than club baseball, hockey, soccer, football, etc...

That Guy
August 6th, 2012, 05:12 PM
http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/poll/conversation/_/id/143923

Sojerz
August 6th, 2012, 05:16 PM
It is impossible to compare the merits of one sport to another.Phelps showed an ability to focus and will to win that is right up there with the best of the best.

it's true that life is unfair and does not provide equal opportunities for all. However, the world has changed and is changing. I would venture to guess that in the early 20th century olympics there were few if any blacks at all. Remember Jesse Owens in '36 and the horror his victories created for the so-called "master (white blue eyed blond) race." For Owens just to get there, he must have overcome incredible prejudice at home and abroad. He is certainly among the top olympians. There's also Native American Jim Thorpe who won gold twice in both the pentathlon and decathlon and Bob Beamon's long jump that stood as a record for over 20 years. And Dick Fosbury who revolutionized the high jump, but won only one gold medal.

In olympic competition, how many medals an athlete wins is at least somewhat a funciton of the sport and events - basketball players and marathoners are not likely to win more than one medal per olympics. Nonethless, LeBron is an incredible athlete and you can't rate his skills and performace based on medal count. And, because some of medals are from relays and/or team events, some athletes need three or more others that are very good to win these medals.

One could argue that Usain Bolt and Carl Lewis are (or were) very good at a comparativley few events - 100m and 200m sprints (and in Lewis's case the long jump), while the body of Phelp's work cuts across many different types of swimming events. Could Phelps win gold in a sprint or could Lewis win in the 1500 or hurdles ?

You have to step back from the medal count BS and look at the athlete and their body of work; then make your own judgement (even though i'm a swimmer) about the best ever olympic athlete. It's a totally subjective, and in my opinion the number of medals doesn't have much meaning.

Frank Thompson
August 6th, 2012, 05:26 PM
If he was a mexican he would have missed the relay medals.....

If you take relays out he has 11 Gold, 1 Silver, and 1 Bronze, plus 1 fourth and 1 fifth. That is still better than anyone.

chaos
August 6th, 2012, 05:34 PM
meh.... none of his olympic feats were longer than 4 minutes.

gobears
August 6th, 2012, 05:48 PM
http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/poll/conversation/_/id/143923

I'll be willing to bet that Michael can run a more respectable 100 or 200 meters than Usain can swim a 200 free, 200 fly or 400 IM. :banana:

knelson
August 6th, 2012, 05:51 PM
I think it's funny when people say it's relatively easy to amass lots of medals in swimming due to the four strokes plus multiples distances and relays. You even hear track people say this which is particularly funny considering they have multiple running distances, hurdles, steeplechase, throwing events, jumping events plus relays!

no200fly
August 6th, 2012, 06:00 PM
What say you?

I say, put them to the test:

http://www.sportspickle.com/news/13469/usain-bolt-and-michael-phelps-agree-to-a-match-race-in-a-marsh

Charge
August 6th, 2012, 06:42 PM
Sojerz,
I totally agree, and the diversity of phelps is the singular issue that makes me consider him the GOAT in the Olympics

16 Olympic events including relays.

Gold medals in 8 different events.

Could have medaled in the 100 free the past two Olympics

Not unlikely he could have medaled in one or both backstrokes if he trained for Them.

He was ranked 10th in the world in the 400 free once upon a time despite not really training for it. Anyone want to bet against him making the team and finaling in that if he chose to?

There is no denying Bolts dominance in the 100 and 200, over two olympics. And if he does it again in 2016 then we can revisit this conversation, but he isnt high jumping, long jumpIng, trying the hurdles or the 400.

Phelps diversity, longevity and dominance (note his margin of victory in the IMs, 200 free and fly) and his ability to deliver under pressure make him the no brainer as GOAT, even if you throw total medals out.

And it drives me nuts when people say "swimming is just swimming, no diversity". Ask them, how many bReastroke gold medal winners medaled in another stroke? How many backstrokers medal in butterfly or free? How many guys are medal contenders in free, back, fly And IM in distances from 100 to 400 meters?

SLOmmafan
August 6th, 2012, 07:08 PM
Look at Misty and Kerri over on the beach volleyball court. How many matches do they have to win to get one gold medal???

I don't think medal count is all its craked up to be...if they win this year they will have a total of 3 golds...but that'd be only half the story.

gdanner
August 6th, 2012, 07:10 PM
This is not my opinion, but have heard this argued multiple times the past few days

He is swimming in a upper class white dominated sport. If swimming were more accessible to inner city black kids then he would have more competition and a deeper talent pool To compete against and he would not come close to his medal count.

Everyone can run, so usain bolt or carl Lewis are the best Olympians ever bc they accomplished what they did against the unquestionable best the world could possible throw at them

What say you?

When you say "inner city black kids," it sounds like we're only talking about the US. Kids that are really fast runners in the US are likely to go into football. It's popular and that's where the money is. So there is no way you can say they are going against the unquestionable best in the world. Soccer is similarly popular around the world. There isn't a lot of money in track & field, just like swimming...unless you're a superstar.

I don't think there's a definitive way to compare the two, but my vote is for Phelps :)

quicksilver
August 6th, 2012, 07:15 PM
Why should running be the arbiter of what great Olympians are made of?
It's not as if he's playing some sport like table tennis where winning is based primarily on skill rather than fitness.

Let's take Phelps versus Usain Bolt and do a swim-run race because running is the measuring stick here. They both do a 100 meter dash on the track immediately followed by a 100 meter sprint. Like a biathlon. Winner is the best Olympian.


Phelps:
100 meter dash: 18 seconds
100 meter swim: 48 seconds

Usain:
100 meter dash: 10 seconds
100 meter swim: 68 seconds

Winner Phelps. Best Olympian ever.

swimcat
August 6th, 2012, 07:19 PM
This is not my opinion, but have heard this argued multiple times the past few days

He is swimming in a upper class white dominated sport. If swimming were more accessible to inner city black kids then he would have more competition and a deeper talent pool To compete against and he would not come close to his medal count.

Everyone can run, so usain bolt or carl Lewis are the best Olympians ever bc they accomplished what they did against the unquestionable best the world could possible throw at them

What say you?

Swimming and tennis and golf were considered country club sports aka white sports 20 yrs ago. Look at the athletes now. Not just Cullen Jones, Lia neal maritza corriera, the bahammian atheltes. What does Color have to do with it?
watch the movie about the black coach in pHilly it is a true story about how he motivated the kids to swim. I can't remember the film but they kids wanted to play basketball and he convinced them to start swimming :blah:

Allen Stark
August 6th, 2012, 07:21 PM
Why should running be the arbiter of what great Olympians are made of?
It's not as if he's playing some sport like table tennis where winning is based primarily on skill rather than fitness.

Let's take Phelps versus Usain Bolt and do a swim-run race because running is the measuring stick here. They both do a 100 meter dash on the track immediately followed by a 100 meter sprint. Like a biathlon. Winner is the best Olympian.


Phelps:
100 meter dash: 18 seconds
100 meter swim: 48 seconds

Usain:
100 meter dash: 10 seconds
100 meter swim: 68 seconds

Winner Phelps. Best Olympian ever.

If Bolt could swim 100M in 68 sec I would be very impressed.

quicksilver
August 6th, 2012, 07:22 PM
If Bolt could swim 100M in 68 sec I would be very impressed.

Same if Phelps could do 100 meters on a track in 18. :)




BTW...The movie is called Pride...Pride - Trailer - YouTube

Jazz Hands
August 6th, 2012, 08:54 PM
I don't even know what people think they are arguing about with this "greatest ever" stuff. Michael Phelps is rather good at swimming. Agreed?

That Guy
August 6th, 2012, 09:04 PM
http://www.usernetsite.com/creativity/concepts-or-words-with-double-meaning-and-some-quite-ordinary-conversations/cant-we-all-just-get-along.jpg

__steve__
August 6th, 2012, 09:48 PM
Anybody can swim if they want to. Our two existing local long course pools are located in predominantly black neighborhoods and easily accessible to anyone. This includes economically challenged, or wealthy individuals of every race.

sftom
August 6th, 2012, 11:09 PM
Interesting you would mention this subject, which the New York Times seems to have addressed a week ago (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/sunday-review/why-olympic-records-are-broken-or-not.html). I though the author had an interesting take on it, and it sounds similar to the OP's points.

knelson
August 6th, 2012, 11:27 PM
Swimming is a global sport, though. There were medalists from all six populated continents in London.

I'm a bit of a baseball stat fanatic and there's always a debate about who the greatest baseball players in history are. One of the points of contention is how much weight peak value should have compared to career value. How does a guy like Sandy Koufax who had a short career compare with Cy Young, for example? If we look at Olympians in those term I think Phelps really shines. Not only did he win eight medals in a single Olympics, but he also has the most total Olympic medals ever amassed. I don't think there's any way you can successfully argue for anyone being a greater Olympian than Michael Phelps. The only people that do are those who think, for whatever reason, that swimming isn't a "real" sport.

wwoelbel
August 7th, 2012, 09:33 AM
Who is the greatest olympian ever is an question that cannot be answered until the criteria for judging is established. Until then, its a subjective question where simple opinion rules the choice. How do you compare someone with 6 gold medals in Dressage with someone with 6 gold medals in greco-roman wrestling? Attempting to lessen the validity of one sport over the other is incorrect and elitist. The International Olympic Committee determines if a sport is Olympic or Not. They do not assign "weights" to individual sports. While I agree that inner-city children are less likely to engage in competitive swimming due to a lack of available facilities, drawing conclusions about the calibre of current swimmers based on this theory is not sound.

Is Michael Phelps the best olympian ever? Stupid question that cannot be factually answered. Does Michael Phelps hold the most olympic medals in current history? That question can be answered factually...

__steve__
August 7th, 2012, 10:45 AM
Nathan Adrian would be a more suited comparison to Bolt regarding distance

Sojerz
August 7th, 2012, 12:19 PM
Is Michael Phelps the best olympian ever? Stupid question that cannot be factually answered.


I'm not sure that it's a stupid question and there are lots of facts, but the real issue (as you stated) is what criteria one would use to make a determination of the greatest olympian ever. It's been interesting to hear people's thoughts and have them weigh-in. Dismiss the medal count BS, but not the question.

Have we debunked the argument that swimming achievements are in someway not representative of the world's population? There are not many black athletes in the winter olympics; does that mean the winter olympics are somehow discredited? Discrediting swimming on this basis is shallow - ignoring the accomplishments of great athletes like Phelps, Biondi, Hall sr and jr, Spitz, Evans, Sanders, Farrell, Shollander, Weismuller etc. (and others im not thinking of), and it would require discrediting the entire winter olympics and many summer sports that do not have broad socioeconomic representation around the globe. A key olympic concept is to broaden representation, and it's working i think.

Clearly, medal count alone is not a good criteria. Beyond counting medals, the criteria become subjective, potentially biased, and opinion based, which is fine and the reason why there is no right or wrong answer. The question is still interesting to discuss and debate, especially if you are an athlete and enjoy the olympics.

arthur
August 7th, 2012, 01:41 PM
I would say Usain Bolt is one of the most dominate Olympians of all time, but only in one or two events. No one can come close to touching him in the 100m dash. He is a bit less dominate in the 200m. Maybe unlikely, but Yohan Blake could beat him. I think Sun Yang is at least as dominate in the 1500m free as Bolt is in the 100m dash.

Although Phelps has owned the 100 and 200 fly, his victories haven't been as dominating as Sun and Bolt. I don't think greatest Olympian can be defined by success in one or two events. It must be defined in overall achievement, in which Phelps is head and shoulders above everyone else. Bolt would have to compete in and win more events to be the greatest Olympian.

AnnG
August 7th, 2012, 02:08 PM
I don't think Phelps came from an upper class background either. Remember his mother was a working single parent seeking to channel her son's high energy. He started swimming in a group swim program.

wwoelbel
August 7th, 2012, 02:50 PM
Sorry - My use of the term "Stupid Question" was rather rude. But I stand by my statement that the question cannot be answered in any objective manner without a definition of "Greatest Olympian". By extension, I personally dont believe that an objective definition is possible as cross-sport performance comparisons just dont seem viable. Earlier in this thread there was a bit about the runner and the swimmer doing a run/swim event. Adding in the gold medalist from Luge makes the comparison even more "interesting".

The OPs point about inner-city children not having access to swimming facilities and thus being under represented in the sport is not lost on me at all.

mattson
August 7th, 2012, 03:54 PM
The "everyone can run" comment can be flipped around. Since swimming is a skill (on top of the athletic component), a case could be made that it is inherently more difficult than running, thus making Phelps achievement more impressive. The smaller pool (pun intended) of competitors (compared to running) is due to that difficulty.

Brian Stack
August 9th, 2012, 06:38 PM
Interesting you would mention this subject, which the New York Times seems to have addressed a week ago (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/sunday-review/why-olympic-records-are-broken-or-not.html). I though the author had an interesting take on it, and it sounds similar to the OP's points.

Here's a take on the same basic idea but looking only at the 100M Freestyle and the progression of Olympic best times over the history of the Olympics.
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/08/01/sports/olympics/racing-against-history.html
Slightly off topic, but the graphics are cool.

Fins25
August 9th, 2012, 06:55 PM
It is an arguement that is un-winnable. How do you define best? In my opinion it is all subjective criteria. But put any of the great names up, Lewis, Phelps, Bolt etc and all I can say is....I would be happy to take any one of their records. They are all amazing and inspirational

quicksilver
August 9th, 2012, 08:52 PM
.
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/08/01/sports/olympics/racing-against-history.html
Slightly off topic, but the graphics are cool.

Very neat video.

The :45 second 100 seems very plausible given the progression of times.

gull
August 11th, 2012, 06:22 AM
Because of Oscar Pistorius...

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2012/08/11/sports/olympics/ap-oly-ath-pistorius-paralympics.html?hp

That Guy
August 11th, 2012, 10:15 AM
Sally Jenkins says the greatest is Jim Thorpe. Usain Bolt says the greatest is Usain Bolt.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/greatest-olympic-athlete-jim-thorpe-not-usain-bolt/2012/08/10/f9114872-e33c-11e1-ae7f-d2a13e249eb2_story.html

ElaineK
August 11th, 2012, 01:47 PM
Because of Oscar Pistorius...

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2012/08/11/sports/olympics/ap-oly-ath-pistorius-paralympics.html?hp


Oscar Pistorius was definitely the most inspiring Olympian to me. :applaud: NBC did a nice job on a story about him. He was a great interview and seems to be a wonderful guy. Outside of swimming, he is my favorite Olympian! :cheerleader:

Celestial
August 11th, 2012, 03:41 PM
Isn't this sort of how the Triathlon came to be? If I remember correctly the new pentathlon also includes a swimming component as well. Comparing swimming to running is like comparing oranges to apples. As to who is the "best" Olympian I don't really think that is something that can be definitively answered. Much easier to determine who is the most decorated.