Judging Greatness

Either I’m on a roll today, or I’m just wasting time. But I came across another interesting something on my way over to Yahoo! to check the weather (in hopes the temperature has crawled above 30).

How do we judge greatness? This question was taken up by Yahoo! Sports as they tried to ascertain how great the Patriots team is. The conversation starts out straightforwardly enough, but then someone asks how the Patriots compare against any professional team in the history of sports. Sure, the question should require a logical-enough answer — athletes run a certain number of yards, throw a certain number of passes, and score a certain number of points. The comparison gets more difficult, it would seem, when we’re talking about different sports, but the members of the conversation seem friendly enough toward the direction of the talk. The Patriots apparently (I really don’t keep track of this stuff) have a perfect record this season, but are they “great?”

I’m not surprised at their answers, but I’m not fond of the idea. It takes a team having all-star players in addition to a stellar record (wow, all these astronomical analogies) in order for a team to be great. In other words, image seems to play a “great” role. It doesn’t seem to matter whether a team of athletes come together to work like a machine. We need to see someone who climbs above the rest, a representative of the team. A face. A name. Individual stats. But how does an athlete get into the Hall of Fame? How much does it come down to image and how much does it rely on the actual numbers related to their performance? Do they have to win the crowd or just win the game? Hmm. I would say winning the crowd. The crowd hears the stats, but they also have to love the player. And yet loving the player without the logic of stats is not enough. Okay, I hope you get the point. I’ll stop before I drive myself in circles.

I’ll be honest, though. The only reason I clicked on the link to this video is because I saw the title, “Best Sports Team Ever?” along with an image of Michael Jordan. “Oh, no, no,” I thought. “If they’re putting the Chicago Bulls up there, they’d better add the LA Lakers. . . .” They didn’t. I’m hurt. Didn’t the late 80s have some of the best games when Magic Johnson, James Worthy, and so many others hit the court? I’m going to complain now. Clearly folks who are trying to properly represent sports history are suffering from a selective memory 😉