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One of the great athletic feats of all time happening this week -- who cares?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Baltimoreguy, Mar 29, 2007.

  1. Baltimoreguy

    Baltimoreguy Member

    Looks like it's time to put Michael Phelps in the pantheon with Roger Federer. Unfortunately, it's the pantheon of all-time greatest athletes whom nobody cares about. Frankly, I care about swimming as little as anyone else, except for the fact that Phelps lives around the corner from me (or did when he was a 15-year-old Olympian). But what he is doing in a sport that nobody in America cares about (on the other side of the globe, which makes coverage even more sporadic) is really incredible.

    Two days ago he took down the most respected record in the sport -- Ian Thorpe's 200 M freestyle time -- by a wide margin. Yesterday, he knocked more than 1.5 seconds off his butterfly world record, and today he crushed another world record. He's on track to finish with six individual gold medals, and won't even add the 100 M free to his schedule, even though he swam the fastest time of anyone at the world championships in the 100 M as part of the U.S. winning relay team.

    At the last Olympics he won 8 medals, including 6 gold, and will probably pick up at least that many in Beijing. Would that make the guy with the most Olympic gold medals in history? At any rate, he is doing mindboggling things. Though nobody cares.
  2. Idaho

    Idaho Active Member

    I was slot the other night and made sure we ran a story on his 200 Free record.

    Had the night off yesterday and there's nothing in about the fly record. Our competition didn't mention it either day, except with their online ticker which is probably set by a service with the AP and not a local brain selecting the stories.

    Maybe it's just me, but I really, really like to get more than just baseball, basketball and football in the paper.
  3. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    Re: One of the great athletic feats of all time happening this week -- who cares

    My problem with swimming records is that there are simply too many events.

    If you want to see who can swim 100 meters fastest, I say great.

    But when it's the 100 IM, the 100 butterfly, the 100 freestyle, the 100 backstroke and the 100 breaststroke . . . you basically have Michael Phelps --- or someone else --- racing the same distance five times. And winning five gold medals for basically doing something worth one gold medal: being the fastest swimmer of 100 meters. Just because you CAN swim two dozen ways (dog paddle, anyone?) doesn't mean you need to give medals for them.

    It would be like giving a sprinter four chances to win gold in the 100 meters: regular running, backward running, hopping on one foot and skipping.
  4. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Here's the thing, BT; just like swimming, those are all completely different things, and it takes a unique skill to do each.

    That's what makes Phelps so amazing; his versatilty beyond pretty much anything we've ever seen.
  5. The greatest athletic accomplishment of recent times was 19.32 seconds, in my opinion, but, I suspect, many on here don't know what I'm talking about.

    The Toronto papers are playing the cricket World Cup up big right now. I don't know anything about cricket (what's an over?) but I find it interesting to read about. The SI piece on the Asian Games that ran recently was a great read. We need more stuff out there like that. People don’t always want to read about the bloody NFL (in Canada replace NFL with NHL).
  6. 19.32 was Michael Johnson, and I agree completely with you notalent
  7. Wake me when Phelps is found to be on steroids or some other banned substance.

    Anybody setting that many records has to be on something...
  8. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    I don't disagree, Baltimoreguy. These are great feats. But as a sports nation in general, we're just programmed to care about swimming every four years. We want it in prime time on the networks and in digestable 10-minute increments interrupted by a poignant piece about Joe Swimmer overcoming great obstacles in Heartland, USA. We'll celebrate great performances and new records for three weeks before returning to our regularly scheduled Red Sox-Yankees games.
  9. You mean like 3/4 of the NFL?

    And I doubt it. The kid's got a freak of a body that's perfect for swimming.
  10. da man

    da man Well-Known Member

    MJ's 43.18 isn't bad, either.

    My favorite Michael Johnson stat: There have been 39 sub-44.00 400 races in history, and MJ has 22 of them. No one else has more than four. That's dominance.
  11. MileHigh

    MileHigh Moderator Staff Member

    One of my best friends is a swimming and water polo coach, and her son and daughters are heavy into the sport, especially the son. So, I've been around it more than others, so I'm interested and care about the World Championships. Phelps has been amazing.

    Oh, and NoTalent, an over is six balls.
  12. Baltimoreguy

    Baltimoreguy Member

    Don't know if you're kidding or not, but it's pretty clear he's an all-natural freak of nature. Unless he was already doping when he made the Olympics at age 15.

    Genuine prodigies are so interesting to me, particularly because they seem like they spring from a providential combination of natural proclivity with upbringing. Phelps has turned out to be a natural swimming macine. But who knew that was going to happen when his mom signed him for the local club? What if he had played lacrosse instead, like most kids in Baltimore? Would he be an all-American lax player now? What if Earl Woods had been a tennis freak, instead of a golf nut? Would Tiger be a great player in that sport, or were his otherworldly abilities uniquely suited to the game that his father happened to be obsessed with? What if Mozart's dad had been a painter instead of a composer?

    To get these genuine, once-in-a-lifetime specimens, I think there has to be that incredibly fortuitious mixture of nature and nurture. Pretty amazing that there happened to be a national caliber coach heading up the local swim club on the day that Michael Phelps came walking in the door as an 8-year-old kid.
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