“Athlete of the Decade?” Not so fast…

Ben Rebstock, FOX Sports Southwest

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought you had to play a sport to win the “Athlete of the Decade” award?  I have no problem electing Tiger Woods the “Hobby Enthusiast of the Decade,” but “athlete” might be stretching it a little bit.

On Wednesday though, the Associated Press did just that, giving Woods 56 of the 142 votes casts for the award.

Yes, Tiger won 64 tournaments over 10 years, including 12 majors.  Considering there are four majors a season though, he had 40 chances to win “the big one.” 

How does that compare to the major sports?  There were ten Super Bowls during the decade…Tom Brady won three of them and drove his team to a fourth. 

The NBA Finals were contested ten times.  Shaquille O’Neal won titles in 1999-2000 (Finals MVP), 2000-2001 (Finals MVP), 2001-2002 (Finals MVP) and 2005-2006.  Kobe Bryant also won four championships over that span.  Tim Duncan was a three time champion, taking home Finals MVP awards as well in ’02-’03 and ’04-’05.

I don’t want to take anything away from Tiger, but if you can win one of your major events on a broken leg…I’m not quite sure I consider that a sport.

Could Lance Armstrong win the Tour de France on a broken leg?  No….because of the strain and athleticism needed in cycling.  What he can do though is beat cancer then go on to win the race six out of ten times.

If you are going to hang your hat on the Majors Tiger won, then why didn’t Roger Federer finish ahead of him?  Tiger won 12….Federer won 15, setting the record for Major Singles Titles won on the men’s tour. 

Tiger isn’t the only “athlete” to dominate his “sport” over the decade.  Michael Phelps only won 14 gold medals and broke 37 world records over the last ten years.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. is 19-0 since 2000, winning four titles in four different weight classes and was ranked the #1 “Pound-for-Pound” fighter in the world by Ring Magazine from 2005-2008.

Tiger doesn’t play a full schedule anymore.  He picks and chooses his battles, only stepping up when the field is right and the conditions are in his favor.  Derek Jeter has played in 1500 games over the decade, winning World Series Championships in 2000 and 2009.  Albert Pujols…since 2001…366 home runs in 1399 games…3 National League MVPs…one World Series title.

(And we won’t even mention Barry Bonds here because of the whole Balco/steroids/HGH deal…but we might revisit if we learn any more about Wood’s doctor who is now in some HGH trouble…)

Give him “Golfer of the Decade,” I’m fine with that.  But sometimes, I think the word “athlete” gets thrown around a little too easy (John Daley is a golfer, guess he’s an athlete too).  If you want to match-up true athletic ability between both the player and the sport, I think Tiger and golf would have a tough time keeping up with some who I believe are more deserving.