It goes without saying that to be considered one of the best in the world at anything, you need to devote thousands of hours to the trade. That goes for everything, from chess to sewing, cooking to football. When it comes to being an athlete, to compete in the best leagues around the world like the NFL, NHL etc. You’re looking at being in the top 0.01% of all athletes in the field. It goes without saying that being exceptionally fit and well-disciplined will help you massively but, how big of an advantage is that on the whole?
Today we’re going to be taking a look at the top sports in America, which are American Football, Baseball, Basketball and Ice Hockey. We’ll be looking at the athletes involved, seeing which sport has the fittest and most athletic participants and use that information to determine which sport has the “best athletes”. It’s worth mentioning here that sports like Football and Hockey have positions where you don’t necessarily need to be that peak male performance but can be a little bit on the bigger side. I’m talking about defensive tackles in Football or the old school Enforcer in Hockey as examples.
Basketball & Hockey
Now it may seem weird for me to be grouping these two sports together. But when it comes to the gameplay of these sports they are both sort of similar in a sense, while they may not be identical, both of these sports are very back and forth, super fast paced as well as incredibly high intensity without many rest periods. Because of this, high levels of athleticism will help out a lot in these sports in particular, however they do have their differences.
As an example, while in some respects Basketball is definitely a physical sport, the fact that minimal amounts of contact are often given as a foul, this means that the modern version of the game is considered by many to practically be a non contact sport. Whereas when you look at the NHL, the sport is incredibly physical, skaters banging into each other shoulder to shoulder, being shoved against the boards and in some cases even fighting is, at least sort of, allowed.
Because of this, you will see that the athletes that take part in these sports are extremely varied. In Basketball, taller is often better with a more slim/muscular build, but historically there have been short players who have been successful like Muggsy Bogues who was 5ft 2.5in and “bigger” players have also thrived like Shaq. In Hockey however is where the real variety happens. Enforcers are usually bigger, you have shorter players who tend to be quicker and more technical etc. But the main thing is that athleticism is a HUGE part of both of these sports.
American Football is another sport that has a wide variety of body types and in some cases athleticism isn’t actually as important as other characteristics like determination and grit. However, if you look out to positions like Wide Receiver and even Quarterback, them being athletic and agile with quick reflexes can be incredibly important. For American Football however, unlike the previous 2 sports, there are a lot of rest periods. Players often have time to gather their senses and their breath between plays.
Now that isn’t to say that American Football isn’t played at as high an intensity as Basketball or Hockey, of course it is. It is still quite a high octane sport, but it is played more in short bursts than one extended period of high intensity. As such, I feel like the sort of traits you need to be at the very top level in American Football differ quite drastically for example, it’s obvious that having good stamina is crucial, but when you have a lot more time to rest between plays, it isn’t quite as important as a back and forth sport like Hockey or Basketball. Only the best players have the grace and opportunity to get this far in the sport. Some of these players include Joe Montana, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Patrick Mahomes.
Considering we’re a month and a half away from the biggest football event of the year where it’s all being put on the line, only the top teams have managed to get through to the playoffs. Now that we’re getting close to the peak of the season with the wildcard round having begun and the divisional round coming this weekend, sports betting fans are still preparing for the Super Bowl. Plenty of tears have already been shed with players like Brady out of the competition for the year and plenty more emotions to go. Many fans are already placing wagers on the Super Bowl to elevate their excitement for the next few games. Now that Brady is not in the running for the Super Bowl, Patrick Mahomes becomes the star quarterback to look out for.
Baseball is an interesting one, because for a lot of positions, you find yourself standing about quite a lot of the time. So unlike all of the sports above you will find that high levels of stamina aren’t anywhere near as important. However, quick reactions are incredibly important in Baseball. That isn’t to say other athletic traits aren’t important of course, if you’re a batter you need power, you need to be quick on your feet but you also need to be nimble when it comes to rounding bases. To me, however, the sport with the “worst” athletes here would be Baseball.
So, sports fans. Would you agree with our assessment here? I feel like we are pretty spot on with this one, given the nature of the game I truly do believe that Basketball and Hockey players are the fittest athletes across all of the big sports in America, however, that isn’t to say that Football or Baseball players aren’t athletic. As we have shown some of the participants of these sports are outrageously fit, you’re always going to get exceptions to the rule also. Just take a look at people like Derrick Lewis in the UFC, while some heavyweights are pure muscle, Derrick Lewis is just pure power and he moves quick for a big lad!
Let’s get a discussion going, if there was anything here you would change, what would it be? Going against everything we have said here, who would you say are the top athletes across all of the big sports in America? I think we will get a fairly varied amount of responses to that one, but I’m sure people like LeBron James will feature quite heavily amongst them! Lastly, are there any roles in any of the big sports where you think being a more complete athlete doesn’t necessarily help you out? For example, I believe in baseball, while being quick on your feet will help, you could be a top tier hitter still even without that ability.