Author Topic: Most important athlete of all-time?  (Read 5178 times)

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Offline jedione12

Most important athlete of all-time?
« on: May 12, 2005, 09:08:38 pm »
There was an interesting read in playboy's june issue where they interviewed Lance Armstrong, mentioning him as possibly being the most important athlete of all-time. I guess I never really thought of him like that before, but after reading through, this guy overcame 12 tumors, goes on to win the Tour de France 6 times in a row, and helped raise close to $40 million for cancer by selling those simple yellow bracelets for $1 each...he has my vote.

Just wondering what everyone else's opinion is?

Chris P.

Offline Luca

Most important athlete of all-time?
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2005, 11:33:47 pm »
Defining athletes in absolute terms -- such as best, or most important
-- is sure to provoke contentious debate. I suppose that, ultimately,
appraising Lance's legacy is a personal proposition, based upon one's
expectations and perspectives.

To deny that LA is exceptionally gifted, driven and resilient is to deny
reality. But does that qualify him as the most history's most important
athlete? No to me. He may not even rate as cycling's preeminent figure
- as many an Eddie Merckx fan will attest.

That's because Lance, for all his spectacular achievements and
philanthropic initiatives, still remains essentially a bicycle racer. That
is, in the public eye he's defined by his athletic pursuits. I don't
perceive that he inspires, outrages, or otherwise, engages the wider
world in terms enduring enough to cast him in the light of a cultural
icon or symbol. In short: he hasn't transcended his sport.

It's for this reason that in the pantheon of athletic greatness I'd rate
Lance of a lesser league than truly legendary figures such as
Muhammad Ali or Michael Jordan. That's not to imply that he's less
gifted or his athletic exploits less remarkable; only that his influence
outside the confines of Pro Cycling isn't as potent or pervasive. Ali and
Jordan are still household names the world over long after their
retirement. I wonder if Armstrong will be ten years hence.

Even so, I suspect that if the question of Armstrong's importance was
addressed to a cancer patient - one that has benefited by LiveStrong -
I'd be told that I was full of sh_t. And I'd have to agree.