The Greatest U.S. Olympians Ever– {As Usual ESPN Gets It Wrong}

ESPN has a story on the 30 greatest American Olympians. Their top 30 are 1-Michael Phelps  2.Jesse Owens 3-Carl Lewis 4-Mark Spitz 5-Michael Johnson 6-Wilma Rudolph 7-Jim Thorpe 8-Greg Louganis 9-Jackie Joyner-Kersey 10-Natalie Coughlin 11-Bob Beamon 12-Edwin Moses 13-Al Oerter 14-Bob Mathias 15-Mary Lou Retton 16-Jenny Thompson 17-Janet Evans 18-Matt Biondi 19-Dan Gable 20-Florence Griffith Joyner 21-Bruce Jenner 22-Babe Didrickson 23-Lisa Leslie 24-Don Schollander 25-Rulon Gardner 26-Evelyn Ashford 27-Muhammad Ali 28-Rafer Johnson 29-Teresa Edwards 30-Shannon Miller

As usual they botch it. These are the same people who had Michael Jordan as the #1 North American Athlete of the 20th Century.. over Babe Ruth who is the clear choice. But Babe is long dead and can do no favors for ESPN. You don’t want to get Michael mad put him at #1.. that is my feeling on why he was #1.

I love lists and looking at their Top 30 its interesting to think about. Michael Phelps means little outside of swimming. What Jesse Owens did was bigger than sports. Jesse Owens at #1 is a no brainer. Jim Thorpe is #2. I am not saying the entire list is wrong. I am sure they left some good ones off that I’d have on. Maybe I’d have the order a little different. Some look ok where they are at.

I would love to see ESPN do a Greatest Olympians of All Time list. There were great olympians who were not Americans. It is kind of hard for example to find a good preview of this coming London Games without seeing 95% of the material just being about the United States hopefuls.  I am going to think about that question-who was the greatest Summer Olympian of all time and come up with a top 10 list.




2 responses to “The Greatest U.S. Olympians Ever– {As Usual ESPN Gets It Wrong}

  1. i agree with your thoughts on jesse owens in the context of the games. he was a stud at the 36 games, and showed up the nazis. i think on the espn list – oerter is way too low – sure he competed in only one event, but he won that event 4 straight times, i think only carl lewis has done that with a soviet boycott mixed in.
    its difficult to also put a greatest tag on a person that played a team sport in one olympics. a list like this is going to skew toward swimming and track and field.
    all of these on the list were great athletes and i think it is very hard to settle issues like this, but i do think that if the footage is in black and white espn viewers tend to tune out.

    • Oerter was great for another reason too- every Olympics he was an underdog who rose to the occasion and won…. i like your comments on comparing the athletes.. they are in different sports different eras..against different competition.. its difficult enough comparing say quarterbacks of the past 30 years..

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