What makes great? What defines greatness to you?
For me, there are differing scales of greatness. These scales are a lot like the differing scales of attractiveness in people that you know (Don’t leave the article yet. Please. I swear I get to a point somewhere). For example, someone who is a 7 on your “hometown” scale might be a 3 or 4 if you want to start lumping in professional good-looking people i.e. models, actors/actresses, singers and such (unless of course, you grew up in a hometown where a professional good-looking person hails from in which case your scales will be forever off and I sincerely apologize) . Also, you have to factor in people you actually know. So hypothetically, there’s a scale for people you know, people that you don’t know but are close to where you live, and the world. Three scales. Differing amounts of awesome (another slight caveat: if you’ve been blessed enough to be in a committed relationship where all this nonsense is out the window, let’s high-five and go do something. I’ve heard “Ted” was good.)
So anyway, you have your three scales. These scales allow you to “compare” people according to whatever you like. Hair color, eye color, smile, physique, etc. Now, there are such things as “x-factors”. X-factors, mostly applied to the 1st scale of people you know, are those minor details that make a person more or less attractive. His/her sports affiliation, level of “niceness”, chillability, and other random things. This can affect someone’s rating on your scale. So what does this have to do with greatness? Well, how do you define greatness?
We all know people that were really good at a specific sport when we were growing up in our town; maybe they were a 7 on the “hometown” scale. You also know people who might have been really good on your college team at school. You probably did not know them but they were good. Then, you know those who made it big. Maybe they went professional and they really made a name for themselves. Those ideas are all well and good. But how do you define greatness? Those people are great, right? But, to a certain extent, we may all disagree on how great they are. So, how can we assign greatness…generally?
We begin by assigning groups of people to decide upon an award that symbolizes greatness. From there, we give those awards to those we deem great. After all that, the person, or people, with the most awards are great. So there’s an equation: consensus of people we think are qualified + award for greatness + presentation of award = great person. So for example, the Heisman Trust (consensus) bestows the Heisman Memorial Trophy (award) for “the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity” to Robert Griffin III and therefore, he is a great person. Right?
Well, all this talk of scales and awards has a point. Watching Roger Federer win major #17 made me wonder, just how great is he? In addition, my mind ventured to Tiger Woods and his 14 major titles as well as his 74 career PGA Tour wins. Just how great are they? There is something to be said for individual sports. The mental focus and physical ability is truly of the highest difficulty. For Federer and tennis, you are playing the weather (somewhat), the surface, and your opponent. For those who don’t know, tennis can be played on clay (French Open), grass (Wimbledon), and synthetic (Australian Open)/acryllic (U.S. Open) hard courts. Those four tournaments mentioned are considered “majors” or “Grand Slams” in tennis because of the history of the tournaments and the significance given to each competition. For Woods and golf, the “majors” are the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, and PGA championship. With golf, you face the weather, the course, and over 100 opponents all at once.
Let’s start with Federer.
Roger Federer has won 17 Major championships. That is the most championship wins of any tennis player ever. Ever. History of mankind. Ever. Not only has he won that many, he has been so incredibly consistent having reached the final of every Grand Slam tournament at least five times and spent the most consecutive weeks at number one of the world rankings with 237 weeks. That’s just over 4 and a half years as number 1 on the planet. Right now, Roger Federer is considered the greatest tennis player of all-time.
Tiger Woods is second all-time in Major wins with 14. He is also second all-time in PGA (Professional Golf Association) Tour wins with 74. Woods also has the record for lowest actual scoring average of 68.17 and the best 72-hole score in relation to par at 18-under as well as numerous other achievements. Right now, Tiger Woods is easily one of the greatest golfers to ever play and when all is said and done, he could go down as the greatest golfer to ever swing a club.
So the question becomes, what makes great? Are these guys great because they have the awards and records to back it up? Are there x-factors that stop you from thinking they’re great? Whatever it may be, it would seem that they are doing something right. When you see greatn…er…really good players like this, it makes me think that: you should shoot for the moon. Because even if you fail, you will land upon the stars. And even if you fall from that perch, you’re still out of this world. And in the case of these two men, maybe you’ll create your own planet where history, a lot like gravity holding you down, is nowhere to be found and you can soar to new heights.