I was thinking about this post ever since I did a recent fannation throwdown and was already behind in votes before the opponent even put up an argument. Then yesterday I got my mail including the Sports? Illustrated swimsuit issue.
So here's what one can conclude from fannation and the swimsuit edition: Today's sports fans are not very bright. Here is an example of something someone actually said: The context is the statement that Willie Mays was the best player in any sport to wear number 24:
"I guess im misunderstanding left. Is Kobe Bryant not wearing #24 right now? I could compile an argument right here and now that says that willie mays wasnt even a top 5 player of his generation (Aaron, Mantle, Spahn, Koufax, Gibson), kobe is clearly the best player of his generation right now. "
Here's another example: Just the other day someone won a throwdown with the argument that Magic Johnson was the best all-around basketball player. He won this by a 2-1 margin over someone arguing for Wilt Chamberlain. Not to belittle Magic Johnson but Wil still holds the record for points per game (tied with Michael Jordan), rebounds per game and total rebounds in a career. Nonetheless twice as many people thought Magic was better.
The above examples are sometimes explained with this argument: players of today are more talented than those from earlier eras, they have better training regimens and more advances in sports medicine/physiology etc. That is a statement indicating a lack of insight. Great players from earlier eras, especially in baseball would still dominate in today's game, and here's why: Expansion weakened the talent pool.
When Mays played there was only 16 teams in the entire major leagues. That means 1/2 of the players today would not have even made the majors in Mays' era. As a corollary that also means today's great hitters face weaker pitching than Mays did 50% of the time. Can anyone imagine what Mays' (or Ruth's or Cobb's...) numbers would have been if they batted against guys in the minors 50% of the time? The same type of argument goes for Wilt Chamberlain in basketball. Wilt scored many of his points/grabbed rebounds against players like Bill Russell and Nate Thurmond. That competition easily stacks up against today's best.
Now on to the swimsuit issue. This is an indicator of how distracted today's fans are from the game on the field/court. The swimsuit issue is the biggest selling edition for SI all year even though it has nothing at all to do with sports. And it's even an anachronism in today's world. Women in swimsuits are more dressed than the women linked daily by SI on-line writer Jimmy Traina, and if anyone wanted to really see racy photos the internet is full of free pornography. I'm not advocating looking at porn but the swimsuit edition is really SI's answer to porn.
Look also at the avatars used by so many fannation members: women in lingerie. This leads me to believe those guys rarely if ever, actually have relationships or even dates with real women ( I'm only speculating on this one). Along the same lines, how many people today are fantasy sports participants but not real sports participants. Fantasy sports are for stat geeks locked indoors. Real sports knowledge comes from playing the game, be it rec league basketball or softball or even golf. At least when you play these games you get a sense of what's important: wins and losses (or your final score in golf).
So, after this lenghty diatiribe let me just suggest: Play a sport, learn the history of sports, and only after that, weigh in with an opinion.