At the weekly “meeting” of my golf league, a variety of topics come up for discussion. And oh, can we have some loud and contentious discussions.
It’s an eclectic group of characters, but we all seem to get along in the end. Last week, the topic of the “world’s greatest athlete” came up. A number of names were brought up, but I am of the opinion that it’s an unanswerable question.
Today’s athletes are bigger, stronger and faster than ever before, but can we judge men out of their time?
After all, for years the epitome of the great athlete was Jim Thorpe, the Native American athlete that won the pentathlon AND the decathlon in the 1912 Olympics and then played pro baseball and pro football for many years—finishing when he was over 40 years of age. He’s one of the original members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was also named by the Associated Press as the greatest athlete of the first 50 years of the 20th century. Is he still the G.O.A.T.?
Or, how about Kevin Mayer of France, who holds the world record in the decathlon—9126 points. The decathlon winner was always called, “The World’s Greatest Athlete—of the Year.” Is he the G.O.A.T. now—but only till the record is broken again? How about Bo Jackson, two sport star and marvelously strong and fast? Lots of support for him. Michael Jordan? Deon Sanders? Rafer Johnson? Bruce Jenner? (now Caitlyn, so is the best athlete now a woman?).
Or is the greatest athlete a woman? We can’t look past Babe Didrikson Zaharias. She was a great athlete in many sports. Probably the best of her gender. So—who would you vote for? (there’s an email address up there) I do know one thing: none of them would be great without their work ethic. Great athletes deserve their status because they put in the effort.
This is a poem I wrote about becoming great. It’s called Champions!
Champions work when none are watching, sweat where none will wipe their brow,
Push while others sit and ponder, ‘cause they know the time is now!
Champions have a heart unfettered by the doubt that claims the rest.
When the lesser athlete falters, they rise up and meet the test.
When you see the bar has risen, do you step up to the plate?
Do you grab the throat of challenge, or are you content to wait?
No one knows what lies within you till you walk out on the field.
Preparation is the diff’rence; some will win and some will yield.
When a job is set before you, do ten more than what they ask.
Every field is filled with talent, few are primed to meet the task.
We must first defeat the demons that are hiding deep within.
Champions take them to the wall -and champions are prepared to win! JDF
• My choice? As I said before, you can’t judge a man out of his time. Would Rocky Marciano (49-0) have beaten Muhammad Ali (56-5)? Very possibly — because Ali was 30 pounds heavier in their respective primes. Tough, tough question, but I’m sure everybody has a choice.
• Notes from History: The Star Spangled Banner was written by Francis Scott Key in 1814 and put to the tune of an English drinking song—but wasn’t officially adopted as our National Anthem until 1931. Still being short-changed. *A group of Puritan ministers founded Harvard in 1636 but became so disillusioned by its liberal principles that they founded Yale as a conservative rival. Conservative Yale?*The controversial concept of “jury nullification” is still on the books but seldom used. Juries can choose not to enforce a law they consider unjust. Hmm!
In 1973, a valve in a brewery diverted several thousand gallons of beer into the local water lines in Bydgoszcz, Poland. The residents were treated to beer for breakfast.
Mr. Maya would have never left home. In fact, if he can pronounce the name of that city, I’ll buy him a Utica Club.
• Joke: A well-dressed guy came into a bar and ordered four drinks. Then he downed them all in quick succession. The bartender said, “Slow down, buddy. What’s your hurry?” The guy answered, “If you had what I had, you’d drink fast too.” The bartender leaned in and said softly, “I’m sorry pal. What do you have?” As the guy turned and ran out, he said, “Fifty cents!”
• Quips and quotes: *If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you always got! *Tough times never last. Tough people do! *We don’t have a health care system in this country, we have a sickness system. *Boys are just noise covered with dirt; girls are an attitude dressed in a skirt. (Old one, obviously) *If carrots tasted like donuts, there’d be no obesity problem.
See ya next week, JDF