Sports fans are a quarrelsome lot, predisposed to challenge anyone eager to apply the label of “the greatest” on any particular athlete. We will skirt such a provocation and instead advance the claim that we’ve been treated to, and currently are witnessing, a “Golden Age” of outstanding performances by a remarkable collection of athletes. Ordinarily it’s only with the passage of time that golden ages come into focus. The contention here, however, is that our generation has been privileged to witness an exceptional cadre of all-time great performers. One may quibble with some of the selections, but to mount a serious challenge, you would have to identify another era when as many superstars in so many different sports were active at approximately the same time. Here, in no particular order, is this  cluster of the brightest stars in the firmament.
• TIGER WOODS is presently attempting, with some success, to regain the form that enabled him to become the “golden boy” of the golfing world beginning at a remarkably young age. For years he was a phenomenon, a dominant electrifying figure, racking up by wide margins one tournament victory after another and earning more money each year than any other golfer.
• USAIN BOLT the Jamaican sprinter rarely gave competitors much of a chance when they chased after him in the 100 and 200 meter dashes. Competing in three consecutive Olympiads he won gold medal after gold medal. Spectators thrilled to his explosive style and dominating bursts across the finish line.
• MICHAEL PHELPS was an aquatic marvel in the butterfly, a stroke to which he brought awesome power and unrelenting machine-like precision. He dominated four consecutive Olympic Games while accumulating a record 28 medals.
• ROGER FEDERER may indeed be the greatest male tennis player of all time. He’s won more grand slam men’s singles tournaments than anyone else, while for years he remained ranked as the #1 tennis player in the world. At one point he appeared in ten consecutive grand slam finals. His grace, power and court savvy have made his name synonymous with unparalleled excellence.
• SERENA WILLIAMS brought exceptional power and fierce determination to women’s tennis, which led to her winning 23 grand slam titles. Twice she won all four grand slam tournaments in the same year. Well into her 30’s, and now a mother, she remains a legitimate threat to win any tournament she enters.
• ALEXANDER OVECHKIN has been a terrifying force on the ice year after year. He has scored more goals then nearly any of the National Hockey League players in history and has an MVP award to his credit. If you wish to start an argument, mention SIDNEY CROSBY, and the debate over two exceptional hockey players will be joined.
• LEBRON JAMES continues to be the most dominant basketball player of the current era. Whether driving to the basket, shooting from beyond the three point line or flicking bullet passes to teammates, his skills are breathtaking. You will get an argument from MICHAEL JORDAN’s supporters, but surely there’s cause to celebrate both of these immense talents. Of course there’s also STEPHAN CURRY, who drains the longest shots ever attempted in the NBA.
• TOM BRADY has done it all, again and again, as quarterback. He’s taken his Patriots team to the super Bowl eight times and been victorious on five occasions. A three-time MVP he’s won more games than any other quarterback in the NFL. You’ll hear fans touting the extraordinary talents of PEYTON MANNING and the argument will be joined. Many of their playing years overlapped, so surely both belong in this mix.
• CLAYTON KERSHAW has been the most consistently outstanding pitcher of his generation. KERSHAW is a multiple Cy Young award winner, a career leader in ERA and seven-time all-star. Despite some disappointing post season efforts, he remains a formidable master on the mound. In the batter`s box we`d select KEN GRIFFEY, Jr., who played for 22 years in the Majors, was named an All-Star 13 times, won 10 gold gloves and was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame (2016) with the highest vote percentage ever.
Have we made our point? We could include, if need be, soccer stars LIONEL MESSI, CRISTIANO RONALDO, NEYMAR, MOHAMMED SALAH and SERGIO AGUERO; skiers LINDSEY VONN, MAKAELA SCHIFFREN and BODE MILLER; boxers FLOYD MAYERWEATHER, SHANE MOSLEY, MANNY PACQUAI; the University of Connecticut’s Women’s basketball team (11 NCAA titles and 111 consecutive victories) and even some superior horseflesh (AMERICAN; PHARAOH and JUSTIFY, both Triple Crown winners) but that would be gilding the lily. The challenge is out there. Is this not collectively the all-time greatest generation of sports stars ever?

Leave a Reply