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October 17, 11:30 AM ET
Chat with John Brenkus

  (11:25 AM)

We've got John!

Greg (VA)

How long have you been working on this project?

John Brenkus
  (11:26 AM)

The most frequent question we get is who is the greatest athlete of all time. Over the last six years we've been gathering data that we can use to then determine who is the greatest athlete of all time. Now we're really excited to bring it to you.

Kevin (GA)

John, how did you decide which sports to use int he final bracket? What are the sports?

John Brenkus
  (11:27 AM)

The sports are: football, basketball, baseball, hockey, tennis, golf, boxing, combat, soccer, track and field, Olympics, endurance, auto racing, action sports and then two special categories: game changers and multisport athletes.

John Brenkus
  (11:27 AM)

We feel this covers all of the bases.

Petr (RI)

How important a distinction is it that this project is focusing on the greatest athlete of all time instead of just the greatest player?

John Brenkus
  (11:29 AM)

There have been a lot of lists that have determined the greatest player. But being an athlete is a different analysis. We are not discounting how great of a player an athlete was, but we're factoring in different aspects, for example, we will look at strength, power, speed, quickness, reaction time, endurance, durability, in addition to weighing in on an athlete's resume, clutch performances and the overall difficulty of their sport. We feel this is a comprehensive metric that covers every aspect of being a great athlete.

David (Las Vegas)

Did you use the same process to determine the nominees as you will to determine the winner of each matchup in the bracket?

John Brenkus
  (11:31 AM)

Yes, the athletes that are being nominated have all been through the preliminary stages of the metric. The five athletes that we are nominating are all athletes we are comfortable with representing each sport.

Chris (Denver)

what are the different metrics and categories? how are they weighted?

John Brenkus
  (11:32 AM)

Strength, power, speed, quickness, reaction time, endurance, durability, in addition to weighing in on an athlete's resume, clutch performances and the overall difficulty of their sport. Each athlete will be scored in each category, not only against their peers (the other athletes they played with during their era) but also against every athlete who has ever played the sport (position).

John Brenkus
  (11:32 AM)

This way we can put in athletes' score in a historical perspective.

Ian (NYC)

Is there any sport where you're curious to see how the fans will vote?

John Brenkus
  (11:34 AM)

This is an incredible exciting process. For the audience, it will be exciting to see who we nominate. For us, it will be exciting to see who the audience votes for. Part of the reason to have the audience pick the athlete for each sport is that one of the factors involved in being a great athlete is having a lasting impact on the public. So, your vote really does matter, ultimately in the metric.

Davis (DC)

How did the idea for this project come up?

John Brenkus
  (11:35 AM)

As with everything at Sport Science, it was a very collaborative effort. We've been working on developing the metric for the last six years and it's finally come to fruition.

Ryan (NYC)

There's this guy named Lebron James, hes 6'8, 275, jumps out of the building and can run a 4.4 40. Not sure how this guy doesn't win...

John Brenkus
  (11:36 AM)

He might. He's on our list. If he gets enough votes to be the athlete that represents basketball, he could go a long, long way. I agree with you, he is undeniably one of the greatest athletes of all time. The question is is he the best? Make sure you vote and tune in.

Dale Harder (Castro Valley, CA)

Are you giving athletes a ranking from 1 to 10 in each category? If so, how is this done?

John Brenkus
  (11:38 AM)

What we're really looking for is the gap between the chosen athlete and everybody else within their sport. We're looking for the separation between them and everybody else. If you would just do a 10-point scale, everybody would be a 10, because they're the best athlete in their sport. So we devised a ranking metric that allows us to put an athlete's ability in a historical context.

Carl (Denver)

Are you worried at all about how the fans will vote?

John Brenkus
  (11:39 AM)

We are comfortable with any of the five candidates that we nominate being the chosen athlete for each category. And, if the audience doesn't like our five nominees, you can write in your own vote.

Clay Parker (Denver, CO)

Are you concerned that your Final 16 will include an auto racer and a golfer that are far less athletic than say all the Top 5 choices in football/basketball because of your format? If so, will you score some of these other athletes at the conclusion of your series to show where they would have ranked.

John Brenkus
  (11:41 AM)

There will be an auto racer and a golfer in the Final 16, because each sport will have one athlete. I don't think it's fair to simply discount an auto racer because they're not normally associated with being strong, powerful, etc. That's why we've included aspects such as reaction time, clutch performance and difficulty of sport.

John Brenkus
  (11:42 AM)

No matter how we do the bracket, the No. 1 athlete is always going to rise to the top. So there is no worry that the greatest athlete will be left out, because if they score the highest on the metric, they will always win, no matter how the athletes are seeded.

John Brenkus
  (11:43 AM)

It's important for you to vote, because having a lasting impact on the public is part of our analysis.


how did you decide on those metric categories?

John Brenkus
  (11:43 AM)

Six years worth of arguments!

Will (LA )

How will you compare athletes across eras?

John Brenkus
  (11:45 AM)

We're going to be putting athletes into a historical context. We will be comparing athletes to their era and then comparing them to every athlete who has ever played the sports. Think about people like Wilt and Jim Brown. Guys who dominated their era and who also could compete today.

Chirs (ATL)

how will you get the datae you need?

John Brenkus
  (11:46 AM)

Through historical biomechanical studies and video analysis. We have a very effective way of coming up with very accurate numbers even for athletes we haven't had in our lab.

Nick Miller (Baton Rouge)

Will you be able to emphasize to the public that this is based on athleticism and not on the better player? I am sure you dont want the most popular athletes to advance

John Brenkus
  (11:48 AM)

We are comfortable with the five athletes we've nominated in each sport. I'm not worried about the popularity contest, because having a lasting impact on the public is part of being the best athlete. Each athlete should be a part of the discussion. I think you'll like the candidates, but if you don't, write in your own. If we didn't take the effect an athlete has had on the public into account, then theoretically there could be some dude in his basement who is freaky strong, fast, etc. but, being the great athlete means you've accomplished something and having an impact on the public is part of being the greatest athlete. An athlete's resume is only one small part of the metric, so our athlete's are not only the one's who have accomplished the most, but accomplishments certainly need to be taken into consideration.

Nick Miller (Baton Rouge, LA)

Will there be any women included or is this just focused on men?

John Brenkus
  (11:48 AM)

There are women included...absolutely.

John Brenkus
  (11:49 AM)

Really looking forward to this project. It's been a long time in the making. Thanks for all of your support. Be sure to vote!