The current issue of Sports Business Journal has a column about a recent survey designed to determine the "fame quotient" of athletes in the US. The results were based on 2,000 responses from individuals who identified themselves as having a general interest in sports. They were asked to rate more than 400 athletes on a scale ranging from "one of my favorites" to "never seen or heard of."
Here are the top 12 athletes, who were listed in the box accompanying the article:
1. Michael Jordan
2. Tiger Woods
3. Nolan Ryan
4. Joe Montana
5. Cal Ripken
6. Jerry Rice
7. John Madden
8 (tie) Wayne Gretzky
[a track and field athlete]
10 (tie) Arnold Palmer
12. Magic Johnson
Obviously, the top 12 included no active baseball players, no NBA'ers other than Jordan, no boxers or tennis players, no quarterbacks other than Montana, etc. But there was a track and field athlete.
OK, would you like to guess who this track person was? I'll post the answer tomorrow (Sunday) at noon, Eastern time. Subscribers to SBJ are kindly requested not to spoil the fun.
Lewis is famous, but I don't see people voting him as "one of my favorites." Same for Big Ben.
Owens is legendary, of course, but all the others in the top 12 are alive; maybe the biz journal included only those capable of live testimonials.
Flojo is a favorite of the general public (who are naive about drugs), but like Owens she is dead. Also, I doubt the only track athlete to make the list would be female. So that eliminates Marion Jones too.
So, by process of elimination, I guess Michael Johnson. People really got into the whole "golden shoes" gimmick, and Nike did a good job pushing him while the Olympics were in the U.S. He comes off as a nice guy, so I can see people voting him "one of my favorites." But it's hard to imagine any of these folks beating Ali.
Of course, if we were to go by t&fn coverage, it'd be Webb. Please tell me it's not him (or Jennings).
I'm changing my answer to Bruce Jenner, for three reasons. First, he fits the demographics of those who made the list (washed-up white men). Second, he has remained visible, if only in his cheesy infomercials and commercials. Third, he did his country proud in the LA Olympics, and I recall images of him with the flag. That counts in this time of high patriotism.
Lewis is the most famous, but like I said he isn't a "favorite." Also, he'd be too obvious an answer for this to be a good quiz.
That's it, I'm going with Jenner.
Personally, before finding out who 'the' T&F athlete was in the poll results, I would have said Carl Lewis or Marion Jones. (Michael Johnson is always saying how much more famous he is in Europe, compared to US). Although I would have liked JJK to be "most favourite", I wouldn't have guessed that she'd be more favoured than Marion (in things like this, I wouldn't see Carl Lewis is the most likable T&F american athlete).
Great for Jackie - highest ranked woman and highest ranked T&F athlete. And, above all, AMAZING athlete!