In setting out to answer the question: “Who is the fittest male athlete in sports?“, sporting publication giant Sports Illustrated has just released the results of their first ever list of the Fittest 50 Male Athletes. Using a very questionable rating system their results raise some serious debate about how strength, speed, endurance, agility, and fitness in general is rated and ranked.
CrossFit athlete Rich Froning Jr. who has been crowned the “Fittest Man on Earth” 4 times in a row after winning his fourth straight CrossFit Games this summer, ended up with a ranking of 32 behind athletes like tennis pro Rafael Nadal and NBA player Ray Allen. While every athlete who made this list has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that they perform at the peak of their respective sport, it's hard to justify some of their rankings.
The fault lies in the "rating system" that SI used to create their rankings, and their heavy bias towards athletes who compete in the more mainstream sports. The large number of NFL and NBA players on the list is not a result of them being more fit than the cyclists, runners, or crossfitters; but rather that they are more recognizable to SI's audience due to the massive amount of exposure they receive over athletes in other sports.
This list does very little to answer: “Who is the fittest male athlete in sports?“, and leaves much room for serious and legitimate discussion about the definition of fitness and who is the fittest (if it's even possible to do so). It will be very interesting to see the results of SI's list of the Fittest 50 Female Athletes which they've promised will be revealed soon. With the lack of exposure and prevalence of mainstream female sports will we see more female crossfit athletes on this list?
Be sure to share your thoughts and opinions on SI's list in the comment section below.
Chris Spealler is not only a CrossFit legend, but he's arguably the best bodyweight specialist to ever compete at the CrossFit Games. Watching him fly through muscle ups or handstand walk his way past the competition was truly amazing and inspiring to watch.
With over a decade of CrossFit experience as both a coach and athlete, and with 6 Games appearances, Chris Spealler has racked up a wealth of knowledge on proper movement and technique.