Why Usain Bolt Is the Best Show in Sports

Noah JampolFeatured ColumnistAugust 8, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 05: Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrates winning gold in the Men's 100m Final on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 5, 2012 in London, England.(Photo by Julia Vynokurova/Getty Images)
Julia Vynokurova/Getty Images

Usain Bolt is the best show in sports.

Don't get me wrong. I don't intend to diminish the brilliance of Lionel Messi, the precision of Aaron Rodgers, the brute force of LeBron James or even the dominance of Tiger Woods at his best.

All of those athletes and many more are unique and special in their own ways. They provide consistent thrills when you watch them.

Still, none of them can approach Bolt.

His mere presence captures every single eye in the stadium and diverts every onlooker outside of it. An imminent championship race of his gives the sporting public a tingling feeling of anticipation weeks, if not months, in advance.

So, why is that? Well, Bolt in his remarkable four-year reign as the world's fastest man has left us many reasons to watch his every move.

We've Never Seen Anything Like Him Before

Throughout the history of the 100-meter dash, there've been champions from all over the world. Ukraine, Scotland and Canada are among the countries that have won gold in the Olympics final in the past 40 years.

It's a diverse array of champions, but one of them stands out...quite literally.

It's Bolt, who at 6'5" doesn't resemble any super-elite sprinter the world has ever seen. He dwarfs his competitors, most of whom are at 6' or under, at every race.

His turnover seems impossibly swift for a man his size. Yet, despite all of the conventional wisdom over the years that sprinters should be short, Bolt has turned that notion on its head.

His start is more than adequate, and at special occasions, like in his runs at the Beijing Olympics and 2009 World Championships, it can match or exceed every competitor no matter what physics might lead us to believe..

Nobody 6'5'' is supposed to move so effortlessly.

When he reaches top speed with his massive strides, it leaves some of the fastest men in history looking like ornaments for a poster.  Incredibly, he takes a staggering 10 percent fewer strides than many of his competitors.

Simply put, the man is a physical freak, a genetic anomaly that we are unlikely to ever see again.

Usain Bolt, World's Greatest Showman

Bolt's performances are spectacular enough, but his unpredictable and playful antics top off each performance.

Whether it's clowning for the cameras, making absurd poses with event mascots or openly discussing his pre-race meal of McDonalds, Bolt never fails to entertain.

On the track, he can face down a pressure-packed event head-on and joke around with the cameraman and his competitors like the race has the gravity of an innocuous repeat at practice.

Even within races he can manage to amuse via celebrating early, looking around a half dozen times or easing down so much in wins it looks comical.

His post-race antics are always fresh, like watching him show his genuine joy as he strikes his familiar pose and then improvises.

The Feeling that Anything Could Happen

Every time Bolt sits in the blocks, there is a tantalizing possibility that he might do something that has never been done.

In the stadium and around television sets worldwide, an unmistakable buzz takes hold because everyone knows. No world record is safe. No ridiculous manner of dispatching the world's best is unreasonable.

Despite all of his amazing performances, it always seems like there's a very strong chance he'll top himself again.

No other athlete inspires that sort of feeling every time he trots out for an event. No one else can make each time out feel like a potentially historic moment.

You don't know how fast he can go, and you probably can't believe it. 

Put together with his innate ability to entertain and the fact that we've never met a human being that is anything like him, that threat of watching history being reshaped puts Bolt over the top.

He is the sports world's greatest show.

The man you can't afford to miss—because you might never see the likes of him again.