Monday, August 18, 2008


Eight gold medals in nine days.

What Michael Phelps has done is nothing short of remarkable. While his teammates were electric earlier in the week and deserve far more attention than they received, it is clear that the Baltimore native not only met the seemingly unreachable goals of these Olympic Games, but has earned much of the hype bestowed upon him.

He’s the greatest athlete of all time.

Hold up... the greatest athlete of all time?

If that sentence is jarring, it should be. It should be because too many folks are quick to make this claim.

This isn't to discount or discredit what he does in the swimming pool as he established a career unlike no other before him, including Mark Spitz, the swimmer who Phelps eclipsed in Olympic accolades. Yet, to say that he's the greatest to ever attempt something athletic is a bit of a stretch. It's not due to fatigue of his hype or the relatively low exposure of the sport in non-Olympic years, but because there is no single metric that can be used across all sports to compare the excellence of one athlete to another.

Michael Jordan's scoring exploits cannot be compared to Jim Brown's rushing prowess, Martina Navratilova's successful aces in Grand Slams or Wayne Gretzky's penchant for hat tricks.

It is not to say that he shouldn't be considered one of the greatest of this era or of any time, but the love affair for Phelps has clouded to judgment of some.

Let's just appreciate what he's done for what it is in this moment. Let us also hope that if there is something to take away from Phelps' accomplishment beyond his future endorsements and parades, it's that an opportunity to promote the sport of swimming is right in front of him and the powers that be in the industry.

Say What?!?!: Speaking of the moment, take a moment to read this article from the New York Times. Maybe, just maybe, there is a true social haven for sports fans.

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