The playground legends

Dave Kidd (for the second time in recent weeks, worryingly enough – the first was his suspicions over the now disappeared “Fulham Daisy”) recently tweeted about Seve Ballesteros (funny how it used to be “baLL” and now we’re all sophisticated it’s “baY”; I remember either Barry Davies or Martin Tyler called Soren LerbY “Soren LerbU” in some tournament or other and it just sounded wrong… what do you do?).

Anyway, Kidd’s point was that when we were younger there were some sporting legends everyone knew: Ian Botham, Seve Ballesteros, Diego Maradona and one other (John Mcenroe! But it might easily have been Steve Davis, Steve Ovett, Sir Bastian Coe, Kenny Dalglish etc).  These were the sporting reference points for everyone, the people we always saw when Grandstand was switched on on a Saturday afternoon or who we always talked about at school, and so on.

Who are the sporting ubiqities of today? The people that Stanley and his friends will all know, the people that even our wives and girlfriends all know?

Wayne Rooney – love him or hate him, he’s the top man in English football
Lionel Messi – the top man in world football, although does he pass the wife and girlfriend test?  I don’t think he does
Andy Murray – I suspect he’ll win something important soon. Lacks transcendental star quality, but winning Wimbledon will change that
Someone who does well in the 2012 Olympics, as long as it’s in a proper sport – TBC
Tiger Woods – or is he too late?
Erm…

11 thoughts on “The playground legends

  1. In the old days top sport was on BBC and ITV and everyone saw it. When there was a major sporting event you couldn’t avoid knowing about it.

    Now there are any number of channels available and most sport is on Sky so by and large only those who are interested have any knowledge.

    That I think is the key change. If a Henry Cooper emerged today who, other than boxing enthusiasts, would know about him.

    1. ah, exactly right. We watched everything because it was there. Only this weekend Dad and I were remembering when Wigan meant rugby league not football. Sometimes that was what Grandstand showed, so that was what you watched.

      1. What else would be on.

        World of Sport on ITV, an old black and white film on BBC2 and horse racing on 4.

    1. I believe you’re in the Northeast like I am; I have my doubts about the ubiquity of the hockey guys in much of the country. Certainly LeBron and Jeter pass the test. Michael Jordan, still. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, I think you could reliably say, too, especially since they show up in commercials all the time.

      Worldwide? I don’t know if there’s anybody. Michael Phelps perhaps, or Usain Bolt, both distinguished themselves on the world stage in sports that aren’t localized like most people that are getting listed. I don’t know if there’s anyone in soccer (football) with the transcendence of a Maradona or a Pele at the moment; maybe if Messi or Ronaldo had been World Cup heroes last summer, but the guys who had the biggest moments last summer (Iniesta and van Bronckhorst and Forlan) weren’t really close to being household names to begin with if you’re not a fan of the sport.

    1. I wouldn’t recognise either of those in the street and of the Americans mentioned in response 4 Bryant is the only name I recognise but don’t know what he does or what he looks like.

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