March 10, 2003

USA Today ranks the Ten Hardest Things to do in Sports.: Do you agree? What's missing? Bull Riding?

Tell you what though. I sure agree with #1!

And yes, Soccer got mad props! (Flash)

posted by vito90 to general at 10:58 AM - 21 comments

I have ActiveX disabled so i am not seeing this page... Whats it all about? And what soccer things were discussed?

posted by StarFucker at 11:01 AM on March 10, 2003

I would also say that kicking a 50+ yard field goal is pretty tough. Not many guys can get it right, so it's gotta be high on the difficulty scale.

posted by bcb2k2 at 11:24 AM on March 10, 2003

Great link. I'd have to give a nod to the gymnasts. On the women's side, the balance beam never ceases to impress me. For the men, the rings look damn near impossible. Maybe that's just twiggy-armed me talking, but I give them respect.

posted by Ufez Jones at 11:47 AM on March 10, 2003

I agree that hitting a major league fastball is the hardest thing to do on a regular basis. But even a sad sack like myself might be able to time my blind-swing and make contact. Even driving a racecar COULD be done by someone "normal". They wouldn't win a race (or even finish it), but a couple of laps wouldn't be out of the question. In fact, most of the other feats could be done, but not well. However, there isn't a hope in hell that I'll "accidentally" pole vault over a 15 foot bar. There are too many physical timing issues to even get up in the air. I'd have to say that it is definitely the hardest of the skills listed.

posted by grum@work at 11:56 AM on March 10, 2003

StarFucker, saving a penalty kick was ranked 9th hardest.

posted by vito90 at 12:22 PM on March 10, 2003

Driving a race car at no. 2? I suppose that ranking is to make all those white folk happy. It's one thing to feel like a "300-pound lineman [is] pushing you" every time you make a turn, but once you build the strength and endurance to make those turns, then what? Okay, so you have to be able to drive with some skill at a high speed. Is that difficult? Yes. But is it the second most difficult thing to do? Hardly. I say it would be easier to teach a pole-vaulter to race a car than a race car driver to pole vault. In fact, shouldn't that be the criterion? Couldn't we make a head-to-head comparison? Would it be harder to teach a baseball player to race cars or race car driver to hit a baseball (of course at the professional levels)? Baseball wins. And so on. I also think number 4 is suspect.

posted by jacknose at 12:29 PM on March 10, 2003

StarFuck, I cut and pasted the rankings for you below: The 10 Hardest Things To Do In Sports 1. Hitting a baseball Considering that a major-league pitch can reaches speeds more than 95 mph, hitters have only 0.4 seconds to find the ball, decide where the ball is going and swing the bat. 2. Race car driving Skilled drivers encounter a host of problems, but rounding the corners of the track is equivalent to having three 300-pound linemen pushing you for three of the four hours it takes to conclude a race. 3. Pole Vaulting Vaulting is a matter of redirecting kinectic energy of the runner's approach speed upward, aided by a long fiberglass pole. To do it, athletes need speed for the sprint, strength for lift-off and flexibility to bend the body over the bar. 4. Hitting a long straight tee shot Driving a golf ball far and long seems to be an easy thing, until you try it; even professionals have trouble with it. Last year on the PGA tour, only two players, Tiger Woods and Chris Smith, ranked in the top ten for both driving distance and greens in regulation. 5. Returning a serve Traveling at over 130 mph, a tennis serve by today's top tennis players is traveling at 185 feet per second. At that speed, a player trying to return the serve has a half second to react and return the serve. 6. Landing a quad Executing a quad toe loop requires a skater to balance height and rotation while skating on a metal blade a quarter of an inch wide. During a successful quad jump, a skater will reach heights of 18 inches above the ice and experience 300 pounds of centrifugal force, all while spinning four times in just over .5 seconds. 7. Running a marathon Running a 26.2-mile race is physically demanding and requires a runner to be disciplined, well-trained and able to withstand pain. Runners, including elite marathoners, often suffer from nagging injuries in the lower back, knees, shins, ankles, Achilles' tendons and feet. However, most runners will say the reward of finishing a marathon justifies the pain. 8. Tour de France The Tour de France covers more than 2,500 miles in three weeks and requires a variety of cycling skills that must be performed at levels far beyond those of recreational riders. On flat stretches of the course, tour riders must maintain speeds more than 30 mph for hours on stretch. During mountain climbs, cyclists must be able to ride up mountain roads with grades as steep as 15%. 9. Saving a penalty kick On the soccer field, the goalkeeper's job is to protect a goal that is 24 feet wide and eight feet high 192 square feet waiting to swallow a ball about 9 inches in diameter. During a penalty kick, the goalie has 0.25 seconds to move and block a ball traveling at more than 60 mph. 10. The Downhill The downhill is an 80-mph exercise in balance and control. With little protection, ski racers hurl themselves down an icy mountain course, alternately digging in their edges to carve the fastest line through turns and putting their skis flat on the snow to gain speed in the straightaways. They fight gravitational and centrifugal forces at every stage in the race.

posted by jacknose at 12:35 PM on March 10, 2003

"Saving a penalty kick" at number 9?! Isn't saving a penalty kick an absolute guessing game? What's so difficult about guessing? Listen Mr. Goalie, either dive to the right or the left, but don't do it before Mr. Kicker kicks. Lesson over.

posted by jacknose at 12:39 PM on March 10, 2003

Gawd, jacknose, don't encourage the Fucker. He's lazy enough as it is. The hardest thing was: Reading this damn report. USA Today is one of the slowest-ass news sites I've ever seen. Never again.

posted by worldcup2002 at 12:40 PM on March 10, 2003

I'd put landing the quad first. It's extremely hard for professionals to do it and is not landed with any regularity in competion. I couldn't imagine a layman doing it, even if they can skate. Pole Vaulting number 2.

posted by corpse at 12:54 PM on March 10, 2003

Driving a car? Please. I can do that. Ski Jumping, now that's some crazy shit.

posted by Samsonov14 at 01:42 PM on March 10, 2003

I don't see how the Tour de France wasn't number one.

posted by Discman at 01:44 PM on March 10, 2003

The Tour de France should probably be ranked higher than 8th. 3 weeks, steep mountains, high speeds, and may be the supreme test of endurance in the world of sports.

posted by andrewraff at 01:48 PM on March 10, 2003

I think the reason the Tour de France isn't listed higher is that, well, it's as easy as riding a bike. Let me explain that. The other things on the list (pole vaulting, figure skating jumps) are virtually impossible to do for the average person. Period. Most of us couldn't even get close to doing it correctly. I'd either impale myself on the pole or smack my face into the ice every single time. I COULD ride in the Tour de France. I'd finish last by about 300 hours as riding through the mountains would be VERY slow for me. But it could be done. If we limit the criteria to "being competitive", then I can see where the Tour de France would be #2 or #3 on the list (pole vaulting and figure skate quads still being the most difficult in my mind).

posted by grum@work at 03:00 PM on March 10, 2003

True, grummer. Even more so, I think that "marathon" is a bad call: Al Gore has run a marathon. Not to unnecessarily bash Al Gore, but he's not doing the Tour de France. I'll agree with the figure skating, too. And while I can't point to anything specific like a quad jump, I think a lot of people (present company excluded, of course) underestimate the difficulty of skating and maneuvering a small, hard piece of rubber around a large ice surface while men with sticks are trying to knock you down. No wonder Darcy Tucker occasionally flips out and tries to kill someone . . . ;-)

posted by Mookieproof at 03:39 PM on March 10, 2003

These are all completely meaningless comparisons -- it doesn't mean anything to say one of these is "harder" than the others. The fact is, in order to do any of them, you need to have exceptional physical ability, and you need to train like hell. The only way you could have a meaningful comparison is if you could somehow define a norm for athletic ability, and see how much a person with "normal" athletic ability had to train to do any of them. But you can't. Athletic ability tends to be specialized -- a world-class [sport1ist] is likely to be an average at best [sport2ist], no matter how hard he/she trains. So, whatever -- you can pick whichever one you want, and say it's the hardest; you'll be just as right no matter which one it is.

posted by ajax at 07:14 PM on March 10, 2003

Returning a really fast serve in tennis is hard, but I think the description isn't entirely accurate and is maybe incomplete. From what I've seen, and from personal experience, the ball's speed is clocked just after it comes off the racquet. Tennis balls have knapp, so that slows them down pretty quickly by the time they get to the net. Then they bounce, and that takes off a lot of speed, too. Now, the bounce is, for lots of ordinary players, where the real trouble comes in. Unless a hard, flat serve is well-placed down the center line or out wide, returning it is mainly a problem of drawing a bead and blocking it back. But really high level serves, especially second serves, come with plenty of velocity *and* a killer kick that sends it on a crazy angle after the bounce and jumps it about six feet in the air as it crosses the baseline. Most recreational players never learn how to handle that kick. Ultimately, the major problems with returning a serve are that you have to move your whole body to get to it, then hit it into a fairly small area in such a way that your opponent doesn't put it away.

posted by jason streed at 11:22 PM on March 10, 2003

I'd make a distinction between specific actions, like hitting a baseball or returning a serve, and the entire sport/activity, like race car driving or running a marathon, and I'd only consider the specific actions to be the hardest things. The list compares different things. They should either compare playing a baseball game to driving a race, or compare hitting a pitch to turning left. And what about triathlon? Or Iditarod?

posted by kirkaracha at 01:35 PM on March 11, 2003

what's the easiest thing to 'do' in sports? (hint: assume you're a russian hockey player)

posted by danostuporstar at 01:46 PM on March 11, 2003

If only that were true, Dan. If only that were true.... *tear*

posted by Samsonov14 at 02:10 PM on March 11, 2003

I don't get it, Sam ... is the answer Anna K?

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:57 AM on March 12, 2003

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.