Many years ago, I decided to do a survey, asking a broad range of people (including athletes, trainers, coaches, Bio-mechanics exercise science experts and sports fans) a couple of basic questions: “Who is the current ultimate athlete in the world? and why?”. Those two questions had been on my mind for a long time and whenever I would bring up the topic in conversations, at competitions where I worked at or at events I participated in, the same outcome would occur: Very few people, if any, agreed on the same athlete and if they did, it was for totally different reasons.
What fascinated me the most in my survey was, no matter whom I spoke to: Football fans, basketball fans, hockey fans, triathletes, avid cyclists, runners, skiers or track & field athletes, there was always a certain “favoritism” towards their sport, or at least their sport genre. I realized athletes and sports fans are very loyal to their own community, but I was also very surprised to see how narrow minded many of them were when considering athletes belonging to other sports or belonging to the other side of the fence. What I mean by the other side of the fence is…there are definitely two major camps in the world of sports: The traditional sports camp which includes all the major league team sports, in addition to sports like boxing, car racing, golf, tennis, etc., and the Emerging/Action/Extreme sports camp, which includes most of the new sports we’ve seen develop in the last 20-30 years.
Since I began working on SFUA, I have been accused of advocating for the extreme type sports and athletes. Maybe so now…but it wasn’t always the case. I grew up playing some of the basic team sports: Hockey, baseball, football and also skiing. For the longest time my idols were the Joe Namath, Michael Jordan, “Rocket” Richard and Jean Claude Killy of sports, until one athlete came onto the scene: Shaun Palmer. Someone who not only was totally fearless, but who’s also hugely talented and athletic! At the same time, I began following the evolution of triathlon and Ironman, the birth of new competitions and event like the X-Games, the Raid Gauloises and today, events like Spartan Race and CrossFit Games. What I realized when looking into the background and achievements of certain athletes participating in extreme competitions was: Some of them were in a category of their own. Does that mean I am favoring such athletes? No, I am simply looking at their list of accomplishments and the level/caliber they perform at, not only in a couple of sports, but in so many different sports and disciplines. One of the best examples is Mike Klosser. If you haven’t heard of Mike, Google his name and you will see what I am talking about. The man is simply exceptional as an athlete, on so many levels.
Mike is just one example of individuals, relatively unknown to the mass unless you live in Colorado or participate in Adventure Racing. Mike can perform way beyond the average athlete and would most likely outperform just about any of today’s high profile professional athletes… in a true multi-sport competition*. Why? Because athletes like Mike are not specialists. They are generalists with such a strong and broad base athletically, in addition to having the rare ability to conquer a sport or a discipline in a fraction of the time that would be required for most of us. The best of generalists have been exposed to a multitude of sports, usually over a few decades, acquiring an abundance of critical technical skills, in addition to reaching a high level of fitness through cross-training, thus allowing them to cross over to just about any sport and quite easily. Such individuals, male and female athletes, are out there! Unfortunately for the sports community, those athletes remain mostly unknown and this is where SFUA comes in. Our mission is to test them across the board and to finally give them the recognition they deserve.
Team sport athletes and traditional sport athletes deserve respect and credit, because they are amazing at the sport they are well know for and possibly for one or two additional disciplines they thrive at. Those athletes should be acknowledged as possibly the best in their specific discipline, but not as the best athlete in the world. The sports community as a whole focuses too much on strength, speed and sometimes on the word “power”… SFUA is not about favoring one of the two major sports camps, SFUA is about bringing together the most versatile athletes capable of crossing over between traditional sports and emerging sports and perform at a very high level in 20+ sports. Who will show up for such a competition? Who will be willing to face possible humiliation and defeat in such a competition? Who will rise undoubtedly, no matter what camp he or she belongs to? So, my pick for the Ultimate Athlete is Mike Beckner…
If you think you are the “one” or if you know who’s the “one”, let us know. Post here or on our Facebook page:
Best wishes for the Holiday Season!