With the recent success of each athlete, the question has been raised quite frequently. My answer might surprise you.
This past Sunday, both Tiger Woods and Roger Federer won their respective tournaments. Of course this is nothing new considering the two have combined for 128 first place finishes in their professional careers.
By winning a record 15th Grand Slam title, Federer’s weekend victory was slightly more significant than Tiger’s. After enduring the 4 hour and 18 minute, 77-game match against Andy Roddick, Federer etched his name atop tennis’ all time greats.
“Now he is a legend,” Pete Sampras said of Federer following Sunday’s Wimbledon final.
Meanwhile, back in the US, Tiger Woods was cruising to his 68th career PGA tour win in the AT&T National, a tournament that he was hosting.
By the time their careers are all said and done, Federer and Woods should both easily be considered the greatest of all time in their respective sports.
As these two legends continue to rack up their career accomplishments right before our eyes, a certain question gets raised again and again. This question fosters debate, discussion, and is viewed differently by nearly everyone. Over the past few days alone, I have had such a discussion with several friends and co-workers. Quite frankly, I never had an answer for this question. That is, until now.
America is obsessed with rankings. Sports fans constantly want to argue about who is number one, who is the greatest of all time, or as ESPN relentlessly asked us two summers ago, who is, “more now.” So when Tiger and Federer won on the same day Sunday, that annoying question was once again pushed upon sports fans.
Over the course of this week, the question has hung in the balance the way Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball hung over the plate for Aaron Boone in the 2003 ALCS. It is begging for a conclusion, an answer, a bat to knock it over the left field wall, anything that will put a conclusion to it all.
This question that I’m talking about is the question that sports fans insist on asking: “Who is better: Tiger Woods or Roger Federer?”
I admit, even I was guilty of asking this very question. I even posed it to followers on our site’s twitter page. As I wrestled back and forth with my own answer, I suddenly came to a crystal clear conclusion:
Who cares who is better at their respective sport? Who cares who is dominating their sport more?
The reality of the situation is that Federer, at the ripe old age of 27, is already the most accomplished tennis player in the history of the storied game. His list of accomplishments is amazing. More Grand Slam titles than anyone in the history of the game (15), record holder for most consecutive weeks being ranked no.1 in the world (237), most consecutive finals won (24), only player ever to reach seven consecutive Wimbledon finals, and on and on and on…. You get it.
Woods meanwhile is on pace to own more golf records than Hugh Hefner does Playboys. Woods is already the fastest golfer ever to reach 50 career tournament victories, he is second all time in majors won with 14, is the highest paid athlete on the planet, is the youngest player ever to achieve a career grand slam, he’s the only person to be named Sportsman of the Year more than once by Sports Illustrated, blah, blah, blah, they’re good. You know.
Not only will these guys go down as the greatest of all time, the beauty of it all is that we get to see these two amazing athletes destroy record after record simultaneously right before our eyes.
As you begin to compare the careers of each in your head right now, it becomes tempting to once again raise that nagging question. But the fact is, except for maybe in some cheesy Gillette commercial, Tiger Woods is never going to play Roger Federer in tennis, nor will Federer ever hit the links with Woods on the PGA Tour. So why bother with who is better or more dominating?
Instead of worrying about who is better in their sport, we should accept the situation for what it is. Woods and Federer are more than just great golf and tennis players, respectively. They are legends. We as sports fans are getting downright spoiled getting to see them compete on a regular basis, particularly at the same time.
So before you go wasting your breath on a pointless argument with no answer, take advantage of what you are able to witness right now. Because when they retire, you won’t be so lucky.