Eric Prister | Wednesday, February 4, 2009
As is their nature, ESPN recently asked another meaningless and completely subjective question of its audience: Who belongs on the Mt. Rushmore of Sports? And, as is my nature, I had to come up with my own idea of who belongs on the Mt. Rushmore of Sports, and discuss (or argue) with anyone who is willing (or even unwilling) to listen. By no means do I consider my opinion to be infallible, but I do think that my knowledge of sports is sufficient to at least allow myself an opinion. I have talked to multiple people about my own opinion and have heard the opinions of many others. I have heard responses that vary from Jackie Robinson to Arnaz Battle to Barry Bonds. Robinson, because of the impact he had on baseball, and on sports itself. Battle, because he is my cousin’s favorite player, and what better criteria for one’s own personal Mt. Rushmore of Sports than the athletes you like best? And Bonds, because if one goes purely by stats alone, then no one has dominated the game as our favorite steroid-ridden home run king.
For me, though, one deserves to be on the Mt. Rushmore of Sports if he (or she) transcends his sport. He must have not only been an athlete, if not the greatest of all time, but must also have meant more to the image of his sport than any other. Therefore, I have chosen four athletes who I think are most deserving of the honor: Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Muhammad Ali and Babe Ruth.
In my opinion, Jordan is the most deserving of the honor. Not only is the unquestioned greatest basketball player of all time, but he also did more for the sport than it ever could have done for him. One only needs to look at the state of the NBA post-Jordan to see what I mean. Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time, and may even be the greatest athlete of all time. He clearly deserves a spot on this great sports monument.
The next most obvious for me is Woods. I have heard people argue that even though he is the most dominant golfer ever, it is still just golf. One friend said that Mt. Rushmore is for presidents, and Woods is simply the greatest ever Secretary of the Interior. He is great for his game, but his game just doesn’t have the prestige of the other, more mainstream sports. I however, think that golf is commonly considered a mainstream sport, and that Woods is so dominant that he deserves his face immortalized.
For me, then, Ali and Ruth go in the same category. Both dominated their sport in their own time, and became the image for it as well. Although neither has statistics that prove their greatness, at least not when compared to others, they truly transcended their respective sport. Thus, they deserve a spot on Mt. Rushmore.
These four athletes would be my choices for the Mt. Rushmore of Sports. Feel free to disagree, however.
Remember, it’s just a meaningless and subjective argument.