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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 07-01-2008, 04:19 PM   #91
Benjamin Walsh
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Re: The World's Greatest Athlete?

My above links are work and family safe. Sorry about that.
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Old 07-01-2008, 07:32 PM   #92
James Besenyei
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Re: The World's Greatest Athlete?

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Originally Posted by Scott Borre View Post
I think that we can define what makes a great athlete different from sport skill and specific conditioning. Is Lance Armstrong as great of an athlete as Dan Thorpe? I'm not sure. But what I do know is that Lance was amazingly conditioned and skilled for his chosen sport. As was Dan Thorpe for all the activities he needed to do, as is Lebron James for what he does. But being conditioned for their sport doesn't necessarily make them the top athlete. I think that ranking people based on the sport they play is a mistake. And that any ranking without actual testing is just hypothetical.

I don't think that 'best athelete' should take into consideration the specific conditioning for a sport, nor the skill involved. But should focus only on how people would compare in random feats that were limited in how skill based they were (obviously any activity has skill, such as form), but mostlyathletic based.

If we borrow from the CrossFit fitness definition, fitness or athleticism could be measured by how one performs in a wide range of activities.

Because of the fully body, emphasis on speed, power, and agility that decathletes train in, I do think they'd be among the best, if not the best. A navy seal has to spend a lot of time shooting guns and doing strategic and tactical training. For this reason alone, a Navy Seal should not be as athletic as a decathlete. But that isn't to say that there aren't incredible athletes in the navy seals, as they definitely are, but we are looking for -the- best.

Is whoever wins the 2008 crossfit games one of the best athletes in the world? Its a great question. I think that until CrossFit gets more competitive it will be hard to fully support (meaning more people competing, having local qualifiers, etc), but I do think that the elite CrossFitters are in the upper echelons of overall athleticism in the world, and depending on age would be well positioned to compete at the elite level in many events (especially those that don't have a long-time need for skill development) of their choosing.
Good points Scott. I have to disagree, however. Sports favor the practitioner. If we measure only speed on a track then the best athlete is going to be a world class sprinter. If we measure long distance running ability then the best athlete is going to be a long distance runner. Decathletes are interesting, however, they specialize in certain events that require a high level of skill and competency and comparing other athletes to the best performers in those specialized events is simply not fair. Why is it not fair? Because it's not fair the other way around either. It wouldn't be fair to say that Lance Armstrong is not as good an athlete as LeBron James because James beat him in a one on one game. Just as it wouldn't be fair to say that Lance is a better athlete than LeBron James because he beat James in a bike race. Moreover, as good as decathletes are, they still fall short of the brilliance of other athletes in their chosen specialties.

With that in mind, how would one go about measuring effectively? Athletic sports (weightlifting, biking, running, track & field) are nothing more than conditioning for ball & bat sports athletes. And to athletic sports practitioners ball & bat sports are good for cross training at best and more likely than not simply good entertainment. I think the best proposition thus far has been to seek out guys/gals who have excelled at several sports, both athletic and ball & bat type. However, even there it is difficult to compare because one can only imagine how good certain athletes would have been had they chosen other athletic avenues. O.K., now I'm just rambling. Point is, athleticism is hard to define and even more difficult to measure because it is very hard to compare apples to oranges.

Last edited by James Besenyei : 07-01-2008 at 07:36 PM.
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Old 07-01-2008, 08:41 PM   #93
Jack Germain
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Re: The World's Greatest Athlete?

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Originally Posted by Benjamin Walsh View Post
Batting average is not the most important statistic for baseball. Not even close. See my post above. See also this
Yes, I was just using that as an example statistic. The point still remains that if you reduce performance to a few statistics, and see who stands out most from the average, we can use that to compare athletes across sports.
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Old 07-01-2008, 09:48 PM   #94
Phillip Garrison
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Re: The World's Greatest Athlete?

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Let's use batting average for the statistic that is most important in baseball, and thus Ty Cobb as the example of the greatest baseball player.

When we measure Cobb's performance in relation to the average, and accounting for the range of performance, the article I link to puts him at 3.6 standard deviations above the mean. Bradman's is 4.4 standard deviations above the mean.

So Bradman is better at playing cricket than Cobb is at playing baseball.

I hope I make sense.
Yes, but you're still comparing vastly different sports.
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Old 07-02-2008, 07:35 AM   #95
Jack Germain
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Re: The World's Greatest Athlete?

It's not about taking the batting averages in the different sports and trying to make them equivalent. You're right, that would be impossible. It's about looking at the degree of excellence they obtained in each sport, in terms of how high their stats were compared to the competition. We could compare athletes in cricket and baseball or cricket and soccer (Bradman beats Pelé).

It's a good rough estimate, but you are right that there are some flaws. I think the biggest assumption is that excellence in a sport can be reduced to performance in a few special numbers. I think it is still an interesting measure to use though.
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Old 07-02-2008, 08:12 AM   #96
Phillip Garrison
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Re: The World's Greatest Athlete?

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Originally Posted by Jack Germain View Post
It's not about taking the batting averages in the different sports and trying to make them equivalent. You're right, that would be impossible. It's about looking at the degree of excellence they obtained in each sport, in terms of how high their stats were compared to the competition. We could compare athletes in cricket and baseball or cricket and soccer (Bradman beats Pelé).

It's a good rough estimate, but you are right that there are some flaws. I think the biggest assumption is that excellence in a sport can be reduced to performance in a few special numbers. I think it is still an interesting measure to use though.
Ok then lets use slugging percentage, which is a much more accurate statistic to measure total offensive contribution for a baseball player. A sport which, by any measure is more difficult, since hitting a round object with a round bat, is harder than with a flat bat.
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Old 07-02-2008, 08:53 AM   #97
Jack Germain
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Re: The World's Greatest Athlete?

I don't dispute that there are better measures of performance for a baseball player than batting average.

However, I don't think it is fair to say baseball is easier than cricket. In batting, there are a lot more strokes and more depth to batting decisions than in baseball. Being skilled is more than just being accurate and hitting hard in cricket.

Also, cricket players field barehanded.
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Old 07-02-2008, 12:29 PM   #98
Shane Rapp
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Re: The World's Greatest Athlete?

No matter what we do, there is going to be a degree of subjectivity. That's just how it is...

Still, I think we can seriously narrow the field if we have some sort of template to describe what we're looking for. The world's greatest athlete has to be someone who is strong across a broad range of the components of performance. Being the worlds greatest athlete is not the same as being the world's greatest player in X sport, since X sport may only focus on a few components.

The important components are:
Health related:
Body Composition
Cardiovascular Endurance
Muscular Strength
Muscular Endurance
Flexibility

Performance related:
Power
Speed & Quickness
Agility
Balance
Motor Skill

We could probably add mental toughness to the list. So looking for the worlds greatest athlete, we can pretty much eliminate participants in some sports from consideration. Most marathon runners, for example, can be eliminated. No doubt, it's a tough sport and they are in great shape but to be a great marathon runner requires only a few of the components necessary to be considered. So unless a marathon runner does something else to demonstrate they are strong in these other components, there is no need to consider them for the running.

Thoughts?
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Old 07-02-2008, 12:42 PM   #99
Phillip Garrison
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Re: The World's Greatest Athlete?

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Originally Posted by Jack Germain View Post
I don't dispute that there are better measures of performance for a baseball player than batting average.

However, I don't think it is fair to say baseball is easier than cricket. In batting, there are a lot more strokes and more depth to batting decisions than in baseball. Being skilled is more than just being accurate and hitting hard in cricket.

Also, cricket players field barehanded.
Then should we also account also for tennis, and golf, since they involved hitting a ball, with an object?
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