Ronda Rousey and the Cautionary Tale of Superlatives

It’s no secret we’re in a culture of “Now”. We’re of a time where immediacy is everything. Short attention spans and instant gratification have us grown accustomed to not having to wait for the ultimate payoff. What’s happing “Now” is the biggest, best and most important thing ever.

This is especially true in the world of sports. When we combine the general importance of the “Now”, with the unquenchable “Hot Take”-thirst of social and sports media, we get some interesting reactionary fandom.

Sports fans today toss around terms like “Most talented” and “Best in the league” like they carry no weight, and think nothing of changing their mind as quickly as a great 10 game stretch by the Greek Freak, or a 12 HR month from Bryce Harper. Even the heftier titles of “Best Shooter Ever” and “Best Player Ever” have recently been assigned to some of today’s greats, far before they’ve done nearly enough to merit such praise. It really takes a lot of the value out of these superlatives.

The title of “Most Dominant Athlete” is one that has been sullied forever, thanks to Sports Illustrated. In 2015, the below appeared on SI.com and in the magazine:

Worlds

Sports Illustrated…one of the most well-respected publications in media, THE publication when it comes to sports, had fallen victim to the stupidity of the Now. They decided to label an athlete 3 years into her UFC Career, in a fledgling sport (Pro Women’s MMA), with limited quality competition, “The World’s Most Dominant” athlete. It was complete farce at the time, and now, well….

ronda pro wrestling

It’s one of the great punch lines in sports.

The person, who less than 3 years ago, was crowned by some the world’s most dominant athlete, has turned in her athlete card to join the world of make believe, and signed on as a Pro Wrestler.

This isn’t totally unprecedented. In 1974, after an unsuccessful attempt at becoming a player/coach in the ABA- he was barred contractually- Wilt Chamberlain spend a short time as a professional Volleyball player, with the IVA’s Seattle Smashers. Of course, Wilt’s basketball career had ended, he was actually considered the best of all time, he was not in his athletic peak, and volleyball is actually a competitive sport.

So actually, yeah, this is unprecedented.

I mean, maybe, if Michael Jordan had left basketball after one title instead of three, and joined the circus instead of Minor League Baseball…it might be similar.

So, let’s all please enjoy the end of what was Ronda Rousey’s athletic career, as she embarks on a new journey, where she still has to stay in top physical shape, but doesn’t have to compete at all…except for storylines and screentime.

And as we watch this disaster unfold, let’s be careful with what labels we use and what superlatives we toss around. We all need to #bebetter

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