The GOAT Debate: Gauging Sachin Tendulkar’s Place amongst Diverse Sports Personas

Blog by: Rohinee Iyer

It is an undeniable fact that Sachin Tendulkar’s name ranks foremost as far as compilations of cricketing records are concerned. But when it comes to tabulating his amassing and comparing it with the assemblage of giants from sporting avenues far and wide, there is a lot to consider before one can pinpoint the cricketer’s place in the global spectrum of sports.

To do so however would require addressing a few key aspects primarily considering that each sporting speciality is unique and as such would differ greatly with cricket. The element of individual and team sports also needs to be viewed with, given that despite Sachin’s impressive records and stature in the cricketing realm, cricket is a team sport depending on the efforts of each and every player who is a part of the squad.

Thus, it is fitting to divide the categorisations of team and individual sports separately and in each category list out a couple of popular sporting domains with a top-rated athlete in each domain. With the following specific points potentially gauging Sachin’s place in the aggregation of sporting arenas:

World Cup 1966: Brazil V Hungary

Game Totality

Team Sports:

–          Football: Pele – One of the most complete players to have ever graced the game, Edson Arantes do Nascimento – Pele – is regarded to be amongst the greatest sportsman ever. The Brazilian forward had a complete game which allowed him to dominate the sport during his time. Making his debut at the age of 15, Pele’s proficiency on the field was unmatched both in the international circuit as well as in the club football level.

–          Basketball: Michael Jordan – Known for his absolute, airtight defensive playmaking and his impeccably singular slam-dunks, Michael Jordan was a basketball wonder whose aura is still undiminished. His game saw him win not only NBA titles and coveted MVP (Most Valuable Player) awards, but also earned him the respect and awe of fans across the world.

Individual Sports:

–          Tennis: Roger Federer – The winner of 17-majors, Roger Federer has been the go-to tennis player for over a decade now. Boasting of a near-complete game with exemplary technical acumen, the Swiss’ repertoire of amassing records has made him to be cynosure of attraction, world over.

–          Golf: Tiger Woods – The American prodigy is perceived to be an instrumental influence on the sport by experts and fans bringing in more athletic fervour to the sport. The world number one has been incomparable with his game-making with innumerable golfing achievements to his credit. These are records that indelibly etch him to be one of the greatest sportsperson of all times.

–          Formula1: Michael Schumacher – There are hardly few who are ignorant of the German’s name and fame in the world of motorsports. Michael Schumacher was a tour de force of the F1 circuit during his heydays, pipping every other race driver.

In terms of his game, Sachin Tendulkar had the most complete game that he was able to modulate to suit the more evolutionary needs of the sport, over the course of years. High on technique and delivery, the sheer classicality of Tendulkar’s shots substantiated his case as a true gem of the cricketing world.

The Championships - Wimbledon 2012: Day Thirteen

Career Longevity:

Team Sports:

–          Football: Pele – The Brazilian governmental policies during Pele’s era restricted Pele to play for a non-Brazilian club. Thus while, most of the future generation Brazilian had the chance and opportunity to play for high-profile clubs, Pele was limited with just one long-lasting stint with Santos between the years 1956-74. He led Santos to two consecutive Copa Libertadores titles in 1962 and 1963 whilst becoming the only player in the sport’s history to have been a part of three World Cup winning squads.

–          Basketball: Michael Jordan – The American began his NBA career with Chicago Bulls taking the team to soaring heights in the 14-years that he spent there. His three-year stint with the Washington Wizards following his second retirement was also quite successful though it was marred by injury that eventually led to his third and final retirement. The fact that Jordan spent a season as a minor league baseball player also adds valuable substantiality to his longevity as a sportsperson.

Individual Sports:

–          The longevity aspect of both Roger Federer and Tiger Woods can be called as ongoing considering that both sportsmen actively represent their sporting domain. But since both players have been at the top of their game, despite facing huge challenges in the past few years from the newer crop of talent, their longevity is unquestionable.

–          Formula1: Michael Schumacher –In the years that have followed Schumacher’s retirement – first retirement – there hasn’t been anyone who has matched the German’s prolificacy. To a sport that has been riddled with danger in every turn, Schumacher gave a new meaning to the term consistency which further allowed him to be an all-time Formula1 icon.

Making his debut at 16 years, Sachin Tendulkar went on to play for India for nearly a quarter of a century. In cricketing terms, that was almost akin to two generations, enabling him to learn from the experts of the game during his early cricketing days and later take over as the team’s mentor for the younger cricketing generation.

Schumacher Japan GP

Most Notable Achievements

Team Sports:

–          Football: Pele – Guinness World Record holder for most career goals scored in football both in international as well as club football. Most goals’ scorer for Brazil in the World Cup. Part of three World Cup winning squads and part of Santos’ squad winning the Copa Libertadores in 1962 and 1963. Part of Santos’ quadruple winning team in the year 1963.

–          Basketball: Michael Jordan – Leading scorer for Chicago Bulls. Five-time NBA MVP and six-time NBA finals’ MVP. Recipient of several important trophies and awards. Member of several all-time NBA teams. NCAA Champion (1982) and ACC Player of the Year (1984). Part of United States’ Olympic winning squad in 1984 and 1992. 

Individual Sports:

–          Tennis: Roger Federer – 17-time majors’ winner winning all four majors. Six-time ATP finals winner. Winner of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Doubles’ with Stanislas Wawrinka. Silver medallist in the 2012 London Olympics (singles). Record number of weeks spent as the world no. 1 (302 weeks).

–          Golf: Tiger Woods – Winner of 14 majors. Youngest player to have won the career Grand Slam. Only player in the sport’s history to have won both silver and gold medal at the Open Championship.

–          Formula1: Michael Schumacher – Seven-time winner of the World Championships (1994-95 and 2000-04). In 2002, had podium finishes in all 17-races winning 11 races. Totality of 91 career victories and 155 podium finishes in a career spanning almost 16-years between 1991 and 2006.

While the biggest achievement of Sachin Tendulkar’s career has been being a part of the 2011 World Cup winning squad, he’s been the recipient of several other noteworthy accomplishments. He’s been the only player to have scored more than 13,000, 14,000 and 15,000 runs in international test cricket. Only player to have scored more than 34,000 runs in both tests and ODIs. He’s also the only cricketer to have played 200-tests. First player to have scored 100 centuries (both tests and ODIs) and first player to have scored 200 runs in ODIs. He’s also the only player to have finished his career with a victory in all of his last matches across all formats.

When placed alongside these giants, there’s no denying that Sachin Tendulkar’s achievements are nearly on par with theirs. However considering that some of these players have been retired for quite a while or in case of the others, are still playing; makes it difficult to pick one clear winner amongst them. Suffice it to say that Sachin Tendulkar holds his own and features right at the uppermost echelons of the sporting world, a place that is sure to be his despite the passing of sporting eras.

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