Tip of the hat to GQ‘s (US Edition) February feature for its feature on the “25 Coolest Athlete of All Time.” Most of their picks are actually pretty cool, and in mostly an old-school, cool-jazz-era sense of cool. (The magazine admits that “all time” begins when GQ itself began, in 1957. But that’s also, more or less, when our conception of cool began; with some jazz and bluesmen and a small collection of New York-trained method actors.) “They’re the ones who played the game like it was an expression of who they were and taught us how to be big-time with grace, style, and swagger.”
(Note: most of the pictures and text from this feature do not yet seem to be free on-line. But you can find a bit here.)
It seems to me that GQ has been leaning toward a recent-frat-boy-trying-to-find-his-swagger-on-Wall-Street (or wannabe thereof) target market in recent years. But for this feature, they clearly called upon some old hands who can remember an era before, say, Kobe and Shaq (who didn’t make the list, by the way). Of course, anyone could think of plenty of guys equally or more deserving. And surely we must be able to come up with some cool women athletes (Martina?). Does it favor American athletes? Sure. But it still includes the likes of George Best, Derek Sanderson, Jean-Claude Killy, Gary Player, Pele, and Bjorn Borg.
I’ll be curious to see if non-US editions of GQ now follow suit. In the meantime, I’ve blogged about one of the inspired choices, Bob Gibson, over at Ethics for Adversaries.