As I have learned over the past few months, when you say ANYTHING negative about a sport, you will inevitably get the negative feedback from people who played that sport. Even though those people only played JV in high school and are now 45 and weigh 274 pounds, they still get offended if you say their sport is not as “athletic” as the other major sports. So, I decided to do a little study to compare the major sports in the US (baseball, basketball, football, hockey, and soccer). Yes I included hockey and soccer because despite its low TV ratings and poor mainstream media coverage, they are widely played and have major pro sports leagues in this country.
Anyway, what I did was take a list of characteristics that compose the ultimate athlete, and rated each sport 1-5 on how much that characteristic is used or needed. The characteristics I came up with were:
-Hand Eye Coordination
Physical Strength: 3
Speed: 2, Much like strength, some guys in the game have incredible speed, like Ichiro. Put let’s put it this way, Cecil Fielder played in the majors, and played well. Clearly, speed is not really needed.
Hand Eye Coordination: 5, The saying always goes that there is nothing that is harder in sports than to hit a 95 MPH fastball with a wooden stick. I would agree that it takes a whole different level of coordination to be a great hitter. Not to mention it take alot of coordination to make some of the plays in the field.
Stamina/Durability: 1, Frankly, there is no sport where the players seem to get hurt more easily than baseball. Which is amazing because guys often will barely move in the field for 3 innings. The only player who should truly ever be gassed at the end of the game is the catcher, who is involved in every play and wears gear.
Mental Acuity: 4
Physical Strength: 4
Speed: 4, The centers of the game bring this number down a notch, but the faster the player, the better player in most cases. Guys like Steve Nash have made careers out of speed. Also, Rajon Rondo certainly uses his speed to his advantage.
Hand Eye Coordination: 3
Stamina/Durability: 5, Clearly this sport, especially at the NBA level, is an up and down sport. Alot of running and change of direction. Plus, players in basketball (as compared to baseball), seem to play through injuries alot. Kobe Bryant has no less than 4 ailments of some sort right now, and still led his team to the Finals.
Mental Acuity: 2, Of all the major sports, basketball probably takes the least about of mental skill. The sport largely relies on physical ability, and plays are not as complicated or ran nearly as much as football.
Physical Strength: 5, Sans the kickers, everyone else on the field has to be physically strong. Linemen are probably the strongest players in sport. Even quarterbacks like Tom Brady have to have a high level of physical strength to withstand the punishment they receive.
Speed: 4, Some people might claim that linemen should bring this number down more, but I would argue that linemen are the most impressive speed wise because they are still able to move at their speed despite weighing 325 pounds plus.
Hand Eye Coordination: 4
Stamina/Durability: 5, Nobody can question the durability needed to play football. Obvious choice here.
Mental Acuity: 4, While the plays may be complex, the game still often comes down to physical ability.
Physical Strength: 3, I think people underestimate how much physical strength it takes to play soccer, but the game is still often times more finesse than pure strength, like football.
Speed: 5, You can’t be a slow to play soccer. You have to be fast. Period.
Hand Eye Coordination: 2, This category handicaps soccer because its against the rules to use your hands, sans the goalie. The only hand action is all the grabbing and pulling the guys do, and frankly it doesn’t take alot of skill to grab a guys shirt. But the goalie’s skill with their hands is impressive.
Mental Acuity: 4
Agility: 5, Maybe the most agile sport on the list. Scissor kick anyone?
Physical Strength: 4, It’s hard to tell how much muscle those guys are carrying under all the padding, but it seems those guys hit each other pretty hard, hit the puck pretty hard, and punch one another in the face pretty hard.
Hand Eye Coordination: 5, The goalie probably have the greatest hand eye coordination in sport, and to hit a puck accurately while skating on ice is impressive.
Stamina/Durability: 3,Seems there is alot of stoppage of play in hockey, and the guys only take 1-2 minute shifts, so its not as taxing as you might think. But the ability to play through injury is incredible.
Mental Acuity: 2
Final Standings for Most Complete Athletes