The Popcorn Stand: Michael Phelps is the greatest athlete of all-time

In Wednesday’s Popcorn Stand I made a brief reference to Michael Phelps being the greatest athlete of all time.

I never thought I would back away from my stance Jim Thorpe is the greatest athlete of all time. But now I am. Michael Phelps is the greatest athlete of all time. Greater than Jim Brown. Greater than Michael Jordan. Greater than Jim Thorpe. Greater than anyone. OK, I’m hedging my bets (a term appropriate for Nevada). I still maintain Thorpe is the most VERSATILE athlete of all time.

Thorpe won the decathlon and the half decathlon (called the pentathlon, not the modern pentathlon which is now a sport in the Olympics).

He’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and had a career .252 average in Major League Baseball.

But I don’t think I can penalize Phelps for just participating in one sport. Because he’s been so dominant in several events — grueling events — Phelps gets my vote as the greatest athlete of all time.

He demonstrated that greatness Tuesday by swimming 400 meters (200 in the butterfly, 200 in the freestyle — if you read Wednesday’s Popcorn Stand you know what I think about the difficulty of the butterfly) to win two gold medals — in about an hour. He has now won 21 gold medals and 25 medals overall.

He has competed in five Olympics. He says he’s retiring after these Olympics. He retired after the 2012 Olympics. He didn’t stay retired.

Now that you can bet on the Olympics, I wished there was a bet on if Phelps is going to win a gold medal at the age of 35 in the 2020 Olympics.

My bet would be on Phelps.

— Charles Whisnand


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