I think that greatness is best measured after the fact. It is hard to define something or someone as truly great as they are performing their craft. It is in reflection upon past events that gives us the best view of something brilliant. In referring to Abraham Lincoln, Carl Sandburg started one of the final chapters with the statement that "A tree is best measured when it is down."*
We have watched more TV as a family over the past week than we have in the three previous months. The Olympics have captured our collective attention. I think that some of this is due to the unique nature of some of the sports we have witnessed. I mean, how often do you get to see competitive badminton?
But the single most intriguing figure in the games has got to be Michael Phelps. When he gets prepared to swim, my entire household stops to watch. He is freakish in his ability to move through the water. Among the best swimmers in the world, he stands apart. So much so that my kids assume he will win every race he enters, it is simply a question of the margin of victory and how much he will destroy the world record.
In my lifetime, I have seen a few great athletes perform. But I would consider very few of them dominant. Jordan, Gretzky, Armstrong, and Woods would have to top the list. (I suspect that Thorpe and Jim Brown would make the cut, too. Before my time, you know.) I think that when the Olympics are finished, we will have to add Phelps to the roll of dominant athletes. And maybe he will top the list because he will have set world records in at least five seperate events in just a week's time.
Is there anyone else you would add to the list of dominant athletes? (No Dallas Cowboys, please. Yes, I am talking to you, Aaron.)
*I am not predicting that anything will happen to Michael Phelps. It's just a quote, okay?