Does ESPN Really Know Sports?

By Rhi
They’ve finally done it. ESPN has made my “list”. Not too long ago, they published an article entitled “Boxing’s Knockout Punch”. Along with it is a list of sports that ESPN ranked in difficulty using endurance, strength, power, speed, agility, flexibility, nerve, durability, hand-eye coordination, and analytic aptitude as its standards. In it, swimming is ranked 36th and 45th in distance and sprint respectively. Ahead of swimming are sports like squash, fencing, team handball, diving, and baseball. Now if that’s not enough to put ESPN on every swimmer’s “list,” what is?

ESPN’s list has even been a hot topic on Facebook. There is a group titled “F*** ESPN, Swimming is the Hardest Sport There Is”. In it, there has been talk on the discussion boards that ESPN’s decision is justified! Someone actually argued that baseball is harder than swimming. He said he could easily get in a swimming pool and get into decent competitive shape but swimmers could not hit a baseball; please! The biggest problem is people think “swimming” is getting into a pool and doing a 500 yard easy swim. I don’t think so!

Referring to the standards ESPN used for their ranking system, let’s take a look at why they put swimming 36th and 45th. This is what someone in Facebook said about swimming’s ranking.

“To be fair, swimming does not take that much extra skill other than personal determination. It takes lots of heavy conditioning for long periods of time. It took me about an hour (I think it was actually about 45 minutes) to swim an open water mile freestyle and I don’t even know the other strokes.

This was without any training whatsoever. It wouldn’t be that hard to learn the basics, and just keep practicing. Although it is a rigorous sport, it does lack in some of the other areas in which the rankings were based. There is no Analytic Aptitude involved at all, Hand Eye Coordination is low, Nerve is basically absent (unless you’re hydrophobic), Agility is rarely an issue, Flexibility is not as important, and the Durability is also less important. (On the Durability comment, this is not to infer easy practices because god knows swim practices are hard, it simply refers to the fact that swimming is a low impact sport so it doesn’t take the same physical toll as others.)

The rest is all there though. Distance swimming is based on: Endurance, Strength, Power, Speed, and hand eye coordination to get off the blocks to start. Sprint swimming takes even less in that it doesn’t require as much Endurance. It is strictly a Strength, Power, Speed sport which leaves it severely lacking in points over the others which were ranked.”

Now, if no one sees a problem with this, get to an eye doctor immediately. Let’s go over each category, shall we?

Endurance is listed on ESPN as “the ability to continue to perform a skill or action for long periods of time.” All of you out there that have had practices that you just wish would end, know that swimming is an endurance based sport. I think swimming stroke after stroke for four hours constitutes performing an action continuously for long periods of time. What is this guy talking about?

Strength is listed as the ability to produce force. In order to get through the water efficiently you need to produce force in your pull and kick. At least this bloke gave us strength.

Power is the ability to produce strength in the shortest possible time. Have you ever heard a swimmer be happy about doing slower times at a meet? Enough said.

The Facebook bugger says that flexibility is not important. Tell that to swim programs that stretch every day and incorporate yoga into their programs. Plus, the more flexible you are in swimming the less injuries you will incur.

And nerve is basically absent? See this guy try telling that to me before my finals swim at the US Olympic trials, or any swimmer before their championship race. A special doctor travels with US international teams just to keep people from getting too nervous. To prevent them staying up all night before their races vomiting.

No durability? ESPN listed durability as the ability to withstand physical punishment over a long period of time. After the first 12,000 I did with David, I wanted to get my shoulders sawed off because I thought it might relieve the pain. Sure, we do not get the living daylights beaten out of us by 250 pound men, but I think we are pretty durable athletes.

Analytic aptitude is the ability to evaluate and react appropriately to strategic solutions. Mr. Facebook says there is no analytic aptitude involved at all. Ask him if he knows how to strategically swim 200 freestyle, or 200 butterfly. He wouldn’t know the half of it. You swimmers out there that have passed people to win in the last length of a race know there is plenty of analytic aptitude involved in this sport.

The only things I agree with this guy on are hand-eye coordination and maybe agility. I mean, we do swim straight for a while before we have to flip turn, but the rest of this is total junk!

This is why ESPN is on my “list.” I’d like to see any of those fat “well dressed” ESPN sports r(w)ankers get in the pool and do one of our workouts. Don’t forget to have the ambulance on speed dial, idiots.