The Most Meaningful Athletes of the Past Century

By Anthony Penn

When I make a list like this, I should start out by saying that it's a really hard thing to do. I wasn't around to see many of the athletes of the past, and the ones who are fresher in our minds will always seem more meaningful.

When we didn't live to see the impact these athletes made, we can't fully appreciate what they did for the sports world. Still, their legends have been chronicled and it's clear that many men during the 20th century were just as big in the world as the current stars of our favorite sports.

With that said, I'm going to do my best to list five of the athletes who I believe had profound impacts on the world and within their sport. Feel free to chime in with your comments if you disagree with these. Here goes.

The first person I'll mention is a baseball player whose impact could never be felt today like it was a century ago. Ty Cobb was one of the most influential baseball players in baseball history, and is largely responsible for the sport's popularity.

Muhammad Ali. This man brought boxing to its height and electrified a world of fans. He's still talked about every single day as the best boxer of all-time.

Pele is often considered the Michael Jordan of soccer. Considering the fact that more people worldwide watch and play soccer than any other sport, he easily commands a top 3 spot on this list.

Babe Ruth. The Babe officially put baseball on the map and made it America's pastime for nearly a century. He was a legend of his time and still remains the king of the home run in the minds of many. If not for Babe Ruth, baseball wouldn't be as big as it is today.

In the basketball world, everyone wants to be like Mike. Many of us were fortunate enough to see him in action, and Jordan was the kind of athlete whose talent is witnessed once in a lifetime. - 31494

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