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  #11  
Old 01-14-2011, 03:04 PM
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Right, time for to get into one of these debates where I actually know what I'm talking about for a start/not going to miss it.

While I'll get round to criticising and de-constructing your arguments for your 'most internationally famous athlete', I have to first criticise the lack of women and female athletes within this debate. I know sport is a male-dominated domain but that doesn't mean to say their haven't been some spectacular female athletes in sporting history, who're known around the world. Although I had this down to two picks, one of which could a be sure fire win, I'm going to go on a limb and pick Martina Navratilova as my most internationally famous athlete.

Intro
While the days of global sponsorship and worldwide viewership of events on TV was just taking it's first steps out of it's infancy, one women was dominating the sport of tennis - Martina Navrativlova.

Born in 1956 in Czechoslovakia, she'd won her first national title by the age of 15. Leaving her homeland the next year to make her first appearance on the US Lawn Tennis Association tour in 1973. The following year after that she had won her first professional title, although she wouldn't turn pro until 1975 and that's when the era of Navrativlova had just began.

Her Tennis career
Her first season as a pro in 1975 saw her reach the finals of two Grand Slams, losing the Australian Open to Evonne Goolagong and the French Open to Chris Evert. She reached the US Open Semi-finals as well, where soon after she applied for her US Citizenship.

She captured her first singles Grand Slam in 1978, having previously won the doubles title of the French Open in 1975. These were just a few of 59 Grand Slam titles she would win in her career, with a further 26 runner-up trophies. her record in Grand Slams looks like this:

Wimbledon:
9 times Women's Singles Champion
7 times Women's Doubles Champion
4 times Mixed Doubles Champion

US Open:
4 times Women's Singles Champion
9 times Women's Doubles Champion
3 times Mixed Doubles Champion

French Open:
2 time Women's Singles Champion
7 times Women's Doubles Champion
2 time Mixed Doubles Champion

Australian Open:
3 times Women's Singles Champion
8 times Women's Doubles Champion
1 time Mixed Doubles Champion

She boasts a 306-49 Win-Loss records in Grand Slam singles in a career spanning almost 3 decades and her overall career record lies at 1444 wins, 227 losses just in singles matches. In her career, she holds a winning record against pretty much every other player, bar 4 people - one of which is a tying record against Steffi Graf, and is arguably the greatest player to have ever competed in Women's tennis.

It isn't just her exploits in dominating the game of tennis for pretty much 3 decades though, the thing that makes her internationally known, whether you like her for it or hate for it is that Martina Navratilova is the biggest superstar in any sport to have come out as gay and her attitudes towards this are what makes her world famous.

Coming Out and Political Activism
Navratilova came out in 1981, a time when there were no such things as same sex marriages or relations and the entire concept of homosexuality was still pretty much a taboo subject, unlike today.

Her defiance to the social norm is what had put her in this place to begin with. Denouncing her Czech heritage and nationality because it had been tainted by the Communist rule of the Soviet Union, was just her first stand against politics and also her first crusade into it. It was her coming out that's led her to become a worldwide icon for gays and lesbians because she was never afraid to admit about who she truly is and no matter what - she's always stood up and faced her critics.

She had petitioned and sued against laws that prevented gay and lesbians to have the right to not be discriminated against, she has defied and put down communist ruling, she is an active member of PETA and she is an icon.

Conclusion
She may not have been plastered all over the world as the face of a global sporting company due to her homosexuality but that doesn't mean the name Martina Navratilova won't bee recognised because when you talk about the greatest of sports people, she is right up there alongside Jordan, alongside Ali, alongside Pele because she dominated her sport with her athletic prowess and not just her outstanding defiance to the norm (she received training from basketball coaches). She cultivated the need for a tennis player and other sports-people to understand the peek physique that is essential for them to be the best.
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  #12  
Old 01-14-2011, 03:22 PM
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I disagree with your statement that he changed the demographic of who plays golf. Joseph Bramlett recently joined Tiger Woods as the only players on the PGA Tour of black descent. I don't recall any others being on the tour during Woods' time and there has not been a significant increase in African-Americans playing golf. I attribute this to economic factors and that I never felt Woods embraced his African-American heritage and encouraged African-Americans to play golf like other athletes have done.
When I speak of the changing demographics of golf, I am not referring to professional golfers. I am well aware of the fact that African-Americans are a rarity in the PGA and in the other professional golfing organizations. Of course Tiger has not changed this. I am referring more to at the grass roots level. More children and younger adults are playing golf and are seeing it as as alternative to automatically playing basketball, baseball, or football. Check out the galleries the next time you watch the PGA on television, I think you will see far more black kids than you would have ten years ago or earlier. Tiger is directly affecting the perception of golf amongst our youth from various economic, cultural, racial, or gender divides. The effect of this in the pros will probably not be evident for a generation or two. More black kids are golfing today than ever, socioeconomic restrictions aside, and you can be sure that in the future, we'll be seeing more than just a couple of guys playing in the PGA who are of African-American descent.

In terms of him embracing his heritage and encouraging it, I don't really know how to respond to this. The man is black, and his very presence on the tour, with all of his dominance and prominence fully featured, in and of itself will encourage other kids to try to follow in his footsteps. I don't really think he needs to take steps to be a golfing ambassador to the world; his presence and his success, recent transgressions notwithstanding, make this automatic.
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  #13  
Old 01-14-2011, 04:20 PM
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Ronaldinho, a man known for his infectious smile and his impeccable footwork. He is recognizable regardless of where you are, everyone knows him. His commercials and viral videos went worldwide, and one of his Youtube videos was the first video to ever reach 1 Million views on the site. Soccer is the world's most watched/played sport and Ronaldinho was the most famous soccer player ever. Sure, a guy like Pele may be well known, but the new generation and people who rarely follow soccer don't know him, they sure know Ronaldinho. He was sponsored by Nike and was featured in what may be their most successful commercial series ever, the Joga Bonito series.

Ronaldinho's crowning moment was being named captain of the Brazilian International Soccer Team, arguably the most famous soccer team in the world. His brilliant play in the World Cup and the Confederations Cup led him to be known on a world wide stage for him amazing ability aside from his footwork and his Nike commercials. He was also a two time FIFPro World Player of the Year.

Ronaldinho takes the cake.
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  #14  
Old 01-14-2011, 09:16 PM
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I agree with Megatron, it has to be Jordan. He was thrust onto the International scene in 1984, where he lead the US Olympic team to the Gold Medal. This was largely responsible for putting basketball on the map globally for the first time, as all Jordan did was score 24.1 points a game to not only lead the team, but also the entire tournament, where he was named MVP. Because of this, he is largely responsible for basketball becoming known globally, more then any other.

Click for Spoiler:

Source: Espn.com
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2009
2 Olympic Gold Medals – 1984, 1992
6-time NBA Champion
6-time NBA Finals MVP
5-time NBA MVP
10 NBA Scoring Titles
3-time steals leader
3-time minutes leader
14 NBA All-Star Selections
3-time NBA All-Star Game MVP
11 All-NBA Selections
9 All-Defensive First Team Selections
2-time NBA Slam Dunk Contest Champion – 1987, 1988
NBA Rookie of the Year – 1984–85
NBA Defensive Player of the Year – 1987–88
ACC Freshman of the Year – 1981–82
2-time Consensus NCAA All-American First Team – 1982–83, 1983–84
ACC Men's Basketball Player of the Year – 1983–84
USBWA College Player of the Year – 1983–84
Naismith College Player of the Year – 1983–84
John R. Wooden Award – 1983–84
Adolph Rupp Trophy – 1983–84
Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year – 1991
Named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996
Ranked #1 by SLAM Magazine's Top 50 Players of All-Time
Ranked #1 by ESPN Sportscentury's Top 100 Athletes of the 20th century
Elected to North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame


WHo has accomplished more within their sport? ESPN named him the top athlete of the 20th century. That's above Pele, Ali, and Tiger. All of them were on the list, which shows that this is a Global list, not just an American one. Much of this is due to him becoming famous globally in 1984, and sustaining that until this day. Here's the full list.

Click for Spoiler:

Originally posted by ESPN.com

1. Michael Jordan
2. Babe Ruth
3. Muhammad Ali
4. Jim Brown
5. Wayne Gretzky
6. Jesse Owens
7. Pele
8. Willie Mays
9. Jack Nicklaus
10. Babe Zaharias
11. Joe Louis
12. Carl Lewis
13. Wilt Chamberlain
14. Hank Aaron
15. Jackie Robinson
16. Ted Williams
17. Magic Johnson
18. Bill Russell
19. Martina Navratilova
20. Ty Cobb
21. Gordie Howe
22. Joe DiMaggio
23. Jackie Joyner-Kersee
24. Sugar Ray Robinson
25. Joe Montana
26. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
27. Jerry Rice
28. Red Grange
29. Arnold Palmer
30. Larry Bird
31. Bobby Orr
32. Johnny Unitas
33. Mark Spitz
34. Lou Gehrig
35. Secretariat
36. Oscar Robertson
37. Mickey Mantle
38. Ben Hogan
39. Walter Payton
40. Lawrence Taylor
41. Wilma Rudolph
42. Sandy Koufax
43. Julius Erving
44. Bobby Jones
45. Bill Tilden
46. Eric Heiden
47. Edwin Moses
48. Pete Sampras
49. O. J. Simpson
50. Chris Evert


What's also relevant in context is his endorsements. He has been a major spokesman for such brands as Nike, Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, Gatorade, McDonald's, Ball Park Franks, Rayovac, Wheaties, Hanes, and MCI. Jordan has had a long relationship with Gatorade, appearing in over 20 commercials for the company since 1991, including the "Like Mike" commercials in which a song was sung by children(of many ages and races) wishing to be like Jordan. Pele, Beckham, Ali, and Woods never made a commercial like this.



Jordan's impact on his own sport is more then any other as well. Although Jordan was a well-rounded player, his "Air Jordan" image is also often credited with inadvertently decreasing the jump shooting skills, defense, and fundamentals of young players. Who else has made an impact such as this on their sport? Id argue that noone has. He changed the landscape, to this day, of how players within his sport play. Because of basketball's increasing exposure globally, Id argue that this is another reason as to why Jordan is the most "internationally famous" athlete. Who else has stirred up debates to this day as to who will be the "Next Jordan" within their sport? Noone has.

Because of him being responsible for the initial exposure to basketball on a global scale through the 1984 Olympics, his unparralled accomplishments within his sport, including being named the greatest Athlete of the 20th Century, amongst all global sports, his endorsements that are known worldwide and second to known, and his impact as to how the landscapeof his sport is played, including the ongoing source for the "Next Jordan" Id argue to that Jordan is the most most internationally famous athlete. Noone has been more well-rounded in their accomplishments and notoriety.
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  #15  
Old 01-15-2011, 05:40 AM
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To the two people who chose Michael Jordan, there is no way he is the most internationally famous athlete ever, perhaps in North America he might but outside of North America he is not even close to it. Basketball is not an international sport and it is not even close to being so, it is popular in a few countries around the world at best. So how can someone, however great of a player they may have been, be considered the most famous athlete ever on an international scale when the sport he played in only popular in a select few countries? If you went to somewhere like South America, Africa, Asia or Even Europe I bet at least half of them wouldn't recognise a photo of Jordan if you showed it to them, I know I sure as hell wouldn't. So if you don't reach such large markets no way are you the most internationally famous athlete ever.
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Old 01-15-2011, 02:11 PM
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To the two people who chose Michael Jordan, there is no way he is the most internationally famous athlete ever, perhaps in North America he might but outside of North America he is not even close to it..
There's no question, no argument that can be made that Jordan ISN'T the most popular player within North America. The "perhaps" can be removed from your statement, as its easily Jordan. His longevity within his sport dating back to 1984 to his endorsements that continue to this day ensure that. Most retired athletes may get a token endorsement through Hair Club for Men or something like that, but he maintains his own shoe line through Nike, which is disriued to this day. Did I mention that his shoe line is distributed GLOBALLY? Which leads me to.....

Click for Spoiler:

Source: FIBA: International Basketball

Of all of the great world team sports prominent in the twenty-first century, only basketball can be said to be entirely American in its origin. Invented by Canadian James Naismith in 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts, basketball was a pure creation and not a derivative game or a long-evolving sport in the manner of soccer, cricket, rugby, and baseball. The rapid growth of basketball in the 1920s and 1930s, primarily at the American high school and college levels, led to a worldwide interest in basketball competition. This led to the creation of the Federation Internationale de Basketball Amateur (FIBA) in 1932. As was the custom with international sports bodies, in which French was the typical language medium, FIBA is a French acronym. The founding members of FIBA were Argentina, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Australia and Switzerland. Basketball was first accepted as an Olympic sport in 1936.

In 1989, FIBA removed the term "amateur" from its name, so as to embrace basketball at every level from around the world and to permit both amateurs and professionals to compete in FIBA championships. Professional basketball players competed in the Olympics for the first time at Barcelona in 1992; this event was notable for the participation of the U.S. "Dream Team," a dominant collection of National Basketball Association (NBA) superstars, lead by the supremely gifted Michael Jordan.

FIBA is now the world-governing body for international basketball. It comprises of over 200 national basketball associations; virtually every country in the world has a structure with which the game is organized. As with most international sporting organizations, FIBA is the sole recognized authority regarding basketball by the International Olympic Committee, regarding both rules and the qualifying competitions to advance to the Olympics. FIBA also convenes world championships in men's, women's, and various youth divisions every two years; international championships are not held in an Olympic year.

FIBA is divided into five distinct zones for qualification and organizational purposes, including Africa, the Americas (both North and South), Asia, Europe, and Oceania.

FIBA is constituted as a not-for-profit entity; the most important parts of the FIBA mandate are the establishment and periodic review of the Official Rules of Basketball, equipment specifications, facility sanction for its competitions, the appointment of international officials, and the regulation of any international player transfers.

The codification of the international rules of basketball has followed a tortuous path. The FIBA rules of competition are significantly different than those that govern National Collegiate Basketball Association (NCAA) competition, or those used by the NBA. The FIBA international rules control does not yet extend to the United States, which remains the largest basketball-playing nation in the world, evidenced not only by the power of the NBA, the most visible and successful professional league, but also by the approximately 1,100 NCAA member institutions, whose game rules differ slightly again from NBA regulation.

The chief differences between the three sets of rules are not tremendous, but each is significant enough to affect both the tempo of the game and the tactics employed. NCAA rules provide for a 35-second shot clock for men and a 30-second shot clock for women. Both FIBA and the NBA provide for a 24-second shot clock. The lane between the foul line and the basket differs in each format: it is rectangular in shape in the NCAA, a wider rectangle in the NBA, and a broad-based parallelogram in the FIBA rules. The three sets of rules each provide varying three-point shot arc distances.

FIBA and NCAA games are 40 minutes in length; the NBA contest is one of 48 minutes. In FIBA, a ball that goes out of bounds may be quickly in-bounded without having the referee handle the ball first. A FIBA player may also touch the ball when it is anywhere in or above the cylinder of the basket; any such touching of the ball in either NBA or NCAA rules is referred to as a goal-tending violation.

Although not significant to the essence of the game, FIBA rules present a challenge for North American players unaccustomed to them. Conversely, the recent and ever-rising influx of highly skilled European and South American basketball players into the NBA is confirmation that adaptation to the professional rules by these players has been relatively seamless.

The trends evidenced by recent Olympic and FIBA world championships suggest that while the United States remains the most prolific basketball nation in the world, FIBA and its impetus to the promotion of a world game have fostered a stimulating competitive climate.


Quote:
Basketball is not an international sport and it is not even close to being so, it is popular in a few countries around the world at best.
While basketball may be North American in its origin, so freaking what? As this article notes, it began to become an international sport within the 1930's, with it becoming an Olympic sport in 1936. The Olympics are a global event, are they not? The founding members of FIBA were Argentina, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Russia, Romania, Australia and Switzerland. Those are all international countries, are they not? Many of them are prominent Asian countries, in fact, such as Russia. Others include your own location, Australia. So while you may never have heard of him, or seen his picture, your country felt differently about his sport in 1932 when it was a part of forming its committee to internationalize the sport.

Quote:
So how can someone, however great of a player they may have been, be considered the most famous athlete ever on an international scale when the sport he played in only popular in a select few countries?
Because when he played in the Olympics in 1984, he made himself known to all countries. This may seem like a simplistic argument, and it is in alot of ways. But the Olympics are an International event, and Jordan helped change the way basketball was perceived when he lead the US to the gold medal in 1984. Basketball has been the hallmark summer olympic sport ever since. Why? Because Jordan lead said team to an 8-0 record while scoring 17.1 points a game. Couple that with his endorsements over the past 19 years, including internationally distributed proucts such as Nike, Gatorade, and Coca Cola.
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If you went to somewhere like South America, Africa, Asia or Even Europe I bet at least half of them wouldn't recognise a photo of Jordan if you showed it to them, I know I sure as hell wouldn't. So if you don't reach such large markets no way are you the most internationally famous athlete ever.
That's based upon personal opinion, and nothing more. There's no empirical evidence, other then your OWN inability to recognize Jordan, which suggests that he wouldn't be recognized by sports fans across the globe. Seeing how basketball continues to grow to this day across the globe, and with Jordan being the most recognizable basketball player of all time, its hard to argue he's not the most famous international athlete, both in North America, but across the globe as well. Basketball's expansion globally in the 1930's, 80 years ago, would suggest as much.
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Old 01-15-2011, 04:31 PM
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Ronaldinho, a man known for his infectious smile and his impeccable footwork. He is recognizable regardless of where you are, everyone knows him. His commercials and viral videos went worldwide, and one of his Youtube videos was the first video to ever reach 1 Million views on the site. Soccer is the world's most watched/played sport and Ronaldinho was the most famous soccer player ever. Sure, a guy like Pele may be well known, but the new generation and people who rarely follow soccer don't know him, they sure know Ronaldinho. He was sponsored by Nike and was featured in what may be their most successful commercial series ever, the Joga Bonito series.
An infectious smile and great footwork is nice and all, but Ronaldhino didnt even make the ESPN list of the top 50 global athletes of the 20th century. If a player isn't in the top fifty, how can they be considered the most internationally famous? There were men such as Pele and David Beckham both that made the list above him. He's not even considered the top dog within his own sport.
Quote:
Sure, a guy like Pele may be well known, but the new generation and people who rarely follow soccer don't know him, they sure know Ronaldinho. He was sponsored by Nike and was featured in what may be their most successful commercial series ever, the Joga Bonito series.
These commercials were fine and dandy at the time they were made, but I hardly remember what they were about to this day. Now, I present to you the Michael Jordan Nike commercials, and you tell me which one is more enduring and was more successful. Anyone can see it was easily Jordan.

Click for Spoiler:



Having watched those commercials, I think anyone can easily see that Jordan's commercials were far more successfully, globally, in selling Nike shoes then Ronaldhino's ever were.

Quote:
Ronaldinho's crowning moment was being named captain of the Brazilian International Soccer Team, arguably the most famous soccer team in the world. His brilliant play in the World Cup and the Confederations Cup led him to be known on a world wide stage for him amazing ability aside from his footwork and his Nike commercials. He was also a two time FIFPro World Player of the Year.
Again, thats fine and dandy, but it doesn't touch Jordan's 2 Olympic Gold Medals in 1984 and 1992, 6 time NBA championships(of which he was the MVP of all 6 Finals), and a 5 time NBA MVP. In the ever growing sport on a global scale in basketball, Jordan's accomplishments easily eclipse Ronalidhino's, Pele's, Tiger's, Ali's, or Navratilova's.

Quote:
Ronaldinho takes the cake.
Not even within his own sport. Pele accomplished more, and Beckham is far more popular. And both of them pale in comparison to Jordan based on his accomplishments, taking basketball global, and his mainstream popularity through his endorsements, many of products such as Nike, Gatorade, and Coca-Cola which are distributed world wide. It's Jordan, without a doubt.
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