A New Harris poll determining who Americans view as the greatest athlete of all time maintained the status quo from the last time Harris conducted the survey in 2009: Michael Jordan still tops the list.
Jordan is followed by Babe Ruth at #2, replacing Tiger Woods, who plunged to #8; Muhammad Ali takes Ruth’s 2009 third place finish. Then #4 Serena Williams, #5 Peyton Manning, #6 Joe Montana, #7 LeBron James, #9 Tom Brady and #10 Wayne Gretzky round out the top ten.
Three members of the 2009 top ten fell from the list this year: #5 Brett Favre, #8 Ted Williams, and #10 Hank Aaron.
The only demographic group that didn’t select Jordan as the #1 athlete was comprised of “Matures,” who picked Babe Ruth. Among men, Ruth finished second to Jordan, but women picked Serena Williams; among “Millennials” LeBron James was #2; “Gen Xers” and “Baby Boomers” both rank Muhammad Ali #2.
Blacks, Hispanics and Asians picked Ali for #2; Lebron James tied Ali for #2 among blacks. Whites selected Ruth for #2, followed by Ali at #3. Among Asians, Serena Williams, Joe Montana, Tom Brady, and Wayne Gretzky tied at #3.
The greatest baseball player was Ruth, whose combined exploits as a pitcher and hitter have never been equaled; Aaron ranked second. They were followed by Mickey Mantle at #3, then a tie among Willie Mays, Ted Williams, and Pete Rose.
Montana was named the greatest football player, followed by Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Walter Payton, and Jim Brown. Brett Favre and Jerry Rice dropped from the list.
Top basketball players? Jordan, then Wilt Chamberlain, LeBron James, Bill Russell, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird dropped out of the top five.
Woods was named the greatest golfer, followed by Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus at #2 and #3; #4 Phil Mickelson tied with Ben Hogan.
Serena Williams, who was not on the list in 2009, jumped to the top in the hew poll, outdistancing previous #1 Roger Federer, who dropped to #2, Pete Sampras dropped from #2 to #3. Arthur Ashe, #4 ranked ahead of Venus Williams at #5. Jimmy Connors and Andre Agassi dropped from the list. Williiams enjoyed an outstanding 2015, winning three of four Grand Slam events and earning Sports Illustraed’s Sportsperson of the Year.
Pelé ranked as the #1 soccer player, followed by Lionel Messi and David Beckham, with #4 Diego Maradona and #5s Mia Hamm and Cristiano Ronaldo completing the top five.