If you asked ten people who the greatest sports legends of all time is, then you might expect ten different answers. Each person has his or her own criteria for determining the answer to that question. Just because two people disagree does not make either of them wrong.
Realistically speaking, there is no right or wrong way to answer the question. Some of the factors you might consider include an athlete’s accomplishments and rankings in a particular sport, rule changes that might have affected the athlete or team’s statistics, and how many years they played.
Another way that people select the greatest sportsmen of all time is by how big of an impact the athlete had on a particular sport. The person may have brought more popularity to the sport by how well they excelled or through a friendly rivalry, such as quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in the NFL.
Greatest Athletes Representing a Variety of Sports
So while the list below includes ten people who I feel are among the greatest sports legends of all time, someone else reading may disagree. Here is the entire list as well as reasons why I felt each person deserved to be there.
- Michael Jordan – This superstar athlete hit the basketball court with the power of a linebacker tempered with the precision of a martial artist. During his career Jordan claimed 5 MVP awards, 6 NBA titles, and 2 Olympic gold medals. He also played a single season of Major League Baseball.
- Deion Sanders – This Florida athlete excelled in 3 sports during both high school and for the Florida State Seminoles. Professionally he played for five NFL teams, earning him the title of 1994 Defensive Player of the Year, and spent 9 years in the MLB. He’s also the only professional athlete to play in both the Super Bowl and the World Series.
- Bo Jackson – With one of the greatest combinations of power and speed known to athletes, Jackson was both a Heisman Trophy winner in the NFL and an All Star MLB player. He also ran track and field during his first two years at Auburn. Unfortunately a hip injury ended his career far too early.
- Muhammad Ali – Born born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., this heavyweight boxer blinding speed and almost superhuman agility made him an ideal specimen for inside the ring. Despite a 1984 diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, Ali was still a titular bearer of the Olympic Flag during the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
- Babe Ruth – You cannot have a “greatest athletes” list without mentioning The Great Bambino. Babe Ruth boasts the following statistics: 7 World Series titles, 714 homers, 2,213 RBI, and a .342 batting average. There is even a museum dedicated to him.
- Tiger Woods – Although less demanding physically, playing golf still requires a great amount of athletic ability. Tiger Woods has won 79 PGA tours and 14 majors, has the lowest scoring average in PGA history, and has earned the highest earnings of any career golfer.
- Nadia Comaneci – The only woman on this list, her performance in the 1976 Summer Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada earned her the first ever perfect ten ever awarded in the modern history of Olympic gymnastics. She was also the first gymnast from Romania to win the Olympic all-around title.
- Wayne Gretzky – As a rookie, Gretzky did not impress anyone with his size, strength, or basic ability on the ice. But by his second season, his intelligence and instincts helped him to rack up 152 points, breaking the previous single-season scoring record.
- Michael Phelps – Swimming since the age of 7, Phelps represented the United States in the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Now retired from professional swimming, Phelps remains the most decorated Olympian of all time with a whopping total of 22 medals.
- Peyton Manning – Born into the family most likely to produce NFL quarterbacks, Peyton along with his younger brother Eli both play professional football just like their dad, Archie. Peyton holds so many records that it would be impossible to list them all in this space.
Sports Legends Never Die
The Great Bambino, Babe Ruth, once said that while “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.” This is very true, and the list above is proof. While most of the people in the list are retired, ask anyone about these sports legends and they will know exactly who you mean.
Even when new sports greats beat the standings and statistics of the legends from the past, fans still go on to talk about sportsmen such as these as they use them to compare and contrast everything from playing styles to years on a specific team.
Mark Harris is a successful freelancer who works from home in White Rock, on Canada’s west coast. However he uses www.itisallaboutsports.com to keep up with all of his favorite American east coast sports teams. In his free time when he isn’t working on writing or online marketing projects, Mark enjoys visiting nearby Vancouver with his wife, kayaking, and hiking.