By passing Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina’s 18 Olympic medals this week, Michael Phelps created history and a new item for sports fans to debate.
Phelps became the most decorated Olympian since the games’ rebirth in 1896, but people still pondered: Is he the greatest Olympian of all-time?
My initial reaction was of course he is. After thinking about it for a while, I still think Phelps probably is the greatest, but I can see how it could be debated.
Phelps has the most Olympic medals and most gold medals, which is a huge plus in his favor. But consider he has had up to eight chances in a single Olympics to win medals while other Olympians such as basketball players only have a shot at a medal at each Olympics.
When you think about it in those terms, it’s apparent why some people might question Phelps’ claim to the title of greatest of all-time.
Still, I think his dominance over the course of several games — and especially his remarkable eight gold medal performance at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing — makes Phelps the greatest.
What I can’t fathom is the view ESPN’s Skip Bayless took on Phelps.
Via awfulannouncing.com: on Wednesday “Indeed, Bayless indeed went on national television and said Michael Phelps is not in his Top 100 athletes of all-time while ‘embracing debate’ this morning.”
Actually, I can believe Bayless said what appear to be ludicrous statements about Phelps.
I doubt Bayless actually believes the words that are spewing from his mouth. That’s the thing about him, I think he says dumbfounding things just to create controversy and draw attention to him.
Bayless is not journalist. He is a professional troll.
Even ESPN’s Desmond Howard called Bayless a “charlatan” (via Merriam-Webster dictionary: a quack, fraud, faker).
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban went even harder against Bayless saying: “You guys like to talk in complete generalities where no one can question you, you don’t ever use facts, you don’t ever use substance” and “That’s exactly right Skip, that’s all you saw, you didn’t look.”
Credit to the awesome website awfulannouncing.com again for those quotes from Howard and Cuban about Bayless.
Bayless has been spreading his venom for years, attacking athletes such as John Wall and Russell Westbrook.
And let’s not forget Bayless’ obsession with Tim Tebow. While Tebow obviously was a huge story, he wasn’t so much of a story in the middle of the summer when Bayless still was obsessing about him for no apparent reason. It’s gotten to the point I fully expect to hear Skip Bayless debate how the presidential election affects Tebow.
The point is, Bayless’ words are meant to have any substance or reason. His entire goal is to get people’s attention by saying controversial and absurd things. I’m focusing on Bayless because he seems to be the biggest troll of sports media, but he is far from the only one; and it’s not limited to sports either, as there are plenty of people like Bayless in politics.
People like Bayless are why I rarely watch ESPN unless a game is on. The network has wandered from its days as a source of news and highlights to become a place for people to yell their opinions.
I’ll gladly take some analysis from the experts, but I don’t want to see people competing to see who can shout over the others. Opinions are OK with me; shouting … not so much.
I hope people look beyond the charlatans like Skip Bayless and see there are people doing great work in covering sports. Most of them don’t get as much attention as Bayless because they just go about their work and don’t shamelessly seek attention.
Of course, this column probably was counterintuitive as I gave Bayless exactly what he wants — more attention without doing anything worthwhile to deserve it.
Kyle Shaner is the sports editor for the Daily Advocate. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.