What sport has the best athletes? What athletes would fare best in other sports?

Randy RatliffContributor IJune 26, 2008

 When thinking about which sports have the most naturally gifted athletes. The first couple of sports that come to mind are soccer and basketball. Due to the fact that most of the time they are running up and down the field. Baseball is based more on skill than actual athletic ability. There are great athletes in baseball, but if you put the majority of baseball players in pure physical testing against basketball and soccer players I don't think they would stand a chance.

 Basketball players have to train year round to run and jump up and down the court. They have to move quickly laterally and change angles at the drop of a hat. Basketball players are extremely coordinated. Soccer players are also in extremely good shape. But their training is tuned more towards endurance and being able to run up and down the field. Their lateral movement isn't as great as a basketball player because they don't play nearly as aggressive on defense as basketball players do. Soccer is more like long distance running with some sprinting from time to time. Basketball players are better all around athletes than soccer players.

 You can also throw tennis players into the mix. They have a great combination of coordination and pure athletic ability. Tennis is a physically draining sport. I think that is why tennis players only excel until they are about twenty six or twenty seven years old. Once a tennis players athleticism dips just a little bit they are thrown out of the loop. Tennis players probably have the shortest career lifespan other than sprinters in track and field.

  You would have to put track and field athletes into a different category because they don't have to be as versatile as athletes who play team sports. They focus their abilities on doing just one thing. They are great athletes in their own right. But they are limited. A lot of track and field athletes lack the mindset and versatility to perform well in other sports.

 Every sport poses different challenges for athletes. Some sports are more mentally draining. Such as baseball. It is a game of skill and hand eye coordination. It takes a large amount of mental toughness to stand in front of the plate and wait for a ninety five mile per hour fastball to blow past you while you try and hit it. You can throw golf in with baseball. Golf may be the premeir mental sport out there. Golf takes an amazing amount of planning and strategy. But it is more mental than physical.

 I think that basketball and tennis players are the most versatile athletes in the world. I think that some of the most physically gifted tennis and basketball players could hold their own in other sports. Steve Nash actually played soccer until he picked up a basketball. He was probably good enough to maybe even have made a name for himself had he not chose to play basketball. It seems that the most logical transition for football players would be to play baseball as their have already been a few successful football turned baseball players; such as Deion Sanders, Bo Jackson and Brian Jordan.

 It's hard to imagine some of our favorite athletes growing up and playing different sports. How weird would it be to see Kobe Bryant playing soccer for DC United. Or Dwight Howard as a defensive end knocking someone over as he rushes the passer. I have always thought Randy Moss would make a great center fielder in baseball. He played and excelled in High School. His coach later commented that Moss covered more ground in center field than anyone he'd ever seen.

 The athleticism in professional sports is evolving every year. Athletes are getting bigger, stronger and faster as benchmarks and records fall. It is exciting to ponder what will happen next. What new athlete will take sports and athleticism to new levels? It will be great to watch the future of organized sports progress and unfold before our eyes.


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