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Michael Phelps - greatest ever?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by richkae, Aug 2, 2012.

  1. richkae

    richkae VIN587

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    #1 richkae, Aug 2, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2012
    Who needs a distraction?

    Having the most medals doesn't make you the best athlete ever.

    First, relay medals don't mean much. Any "team" that is just a collection of individual scores measures the depth of talent from that country, not the individuals.
    If Phelps swam for Luxembourg, he would have zero relay medals.
    At best, they are duplicates of the individual achievements.

    So when you throw out the realy medals, he has 11. Still impressive, but not a way to measure greatness.

    Phelps was the best short distance swimmer in the world from 2003 to 2008.
    There are only two ways to measure "greatness" across sports. How long you dominate the sport, and how dominant you are ( margin of victory ).
    5 years is pretty good, but other athletes have done better.
    Jordan was 6 or 8 years.
    Gretzky was 7 or 8 years.
    Armstrong was 7 years.

    Fight!
     
  2. doug

    doug Administrator / Head Moderator

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    Basically agree, but I don't think it's anything controversial. Whenever you say an absolute like "greatest ever" it necessarily comes with one or more qualifiers. One could argue different sports require a different level (or a different type) of athleticism. To say someone is the greatest Olympic athlete ever has as much to do with timing and luck as anything else. Given the variety of Olympic sports, making the criterion total lifetime medals I suppose is reasonable, since winning a medal is the goal. One might say swimming is at an unfair advantage given the number of events that sport has.
     
  3. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    My Roadster is way greater than my iPhone.

    That's the kind of comparison we're talking about here. Apples and Teslas.
     
  4. Robert.Boston

    Robert.Boston Model S VIN P01536

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    Saying "Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympian" is akin to saying "Model S is the best production car". Truth is in the eye of the beholder.

    And I hate his goatee. He's looking Vulcan.
     
  5. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Active Member

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    Wrong Michael

    I'd likely not put a swimmer in there. Top freestyle swimmers win multiple events.

    I'd go for Michael Johnson over Phelps. He absolutely destroyed the 200m and 400m records.
    Now of course there's Usain Bolt who has similarly destroyed 100m and 200m records.

    From a biased British perspective I'd go for (Sir) Steve Redgrave, because he won with different partners and because rowers always look like they've earned their success.
     
  6. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    Athletes and sports change over the decades. Science and knowledge about nutrition, exercise and training is much better now than many decades ago. That's why I don't think you can really compare teams or individual athletes across many generations. It's better to compare them within the generation they competed in. With that, Phelps probably is one of the greatest olympic champions of his generation.
     
  7. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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  8. richkae

    richkae VIN587

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    What I said was that the relays dont count when measuring an individual athlete against his peers.
    If swimmer A had 8 individual medals and swimmer B had 0 individual medals but 16 relay medals - does that mean swimmer B is better than swimmer A? No, it means that swimmer Bs "team" was better than swimmer A.
    But even using "team" for a relay is a stretch, its just 4 individual performances strung together.
    Winning at a relay doesn't mean you have a good team, it means you have 4 individuals whose times add together to be the fastest. It is nothing in your control, its all about the talent pool in your country.

    Of course when your team wins at a real team sport ( like football ) it means you have the best team - but that is the difference with a real team sport - it could be made up of players that by strict individual measures are inferior to the players on a team that they beat.

    Winning at a real team sport is a factor in measuring the individuals who play that sport, but it is much more complicated. In a real team sport, the best player - the one who contributes the most to the teams victory - may not be obvious from a scoreboard.
     
  9. doug

    doug Administrator / Head Moderator

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    #9 doug, Aug 3, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2012
    Well apparently those that follow these things also look separately at individual and team events. From Wikipedia, which I assume is up to the minute accurate:

    I believe today he has the opportunity to win two more. So individually, he's also doing quite well.
     
  10. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    We'll just have to disagree on this one. Because we clearly see things differently.

    Watch that video I linked and tell me Lezak doesn't deserve to have his medal "count" because "relays don't matter."
     
  11. Beavis

    Beavis Signature 991

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    Every great athlete has a team that may or may not include other athletes. Coaches, trainers, nutritionists, psychologists, etc... This is a silly discussion but fun nonetheless. BTW, Wilt the Stilt is the greatest athlete ever.
     
  12. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    One of. I think it's a bit difficult to compare reasonably across sports, which is part of the problem with the whole discussion IMO.
     
  13. Beavis

    Beavis Signature 991

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    Greatest lover then?
     
  14. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    Sex addict, yes.

    Lover... more subjective.
     
  15. Beavis

    Beavis Signature 991

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    I think I remember him saying that he loved every one of them.
     
  16. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    I'm sure the line worked well...
     
  17. richkae

    richkae VIN587

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    If a swimmer wins the individual medal for the same stroke he performed in the relay - and thus has 2 medals - he is indistinguishable from another swimmer who won the individual medal for his best stroke, but has no relay medal.
     
  18. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    Would you say the same about someone who wins a gold in 2 man canoe vs. 1 man? Only the latter should "count"?
     
  19. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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  20. rolosrevenge

    rolosrevenge Dr. EVS

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    Well, he took another individual gold, so now his individual record improves even more.
     

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