The smallest category out of the ten reflects the very recent development of organized sports on a wide scale. Though sports have been played throughout history, individual influence has been very limited until the 1800s. Taking the widest possible view of sports in general revealed three individuals. Pierre de Coubertin, who clearly stands out above everyone else because (1) he almost single handedly revived the ancient Olympic Games and (2) the Olympic Games was the catalyst for worldwide participation and competition in a wide range of sports that continues to today. Second, is Albert Goodwill Spalding, who did much to make baseball American’s pastime and created the largest sporting goods empire in the world. Third, is Roone Arledge, for his seminal work in sports television. Television’s role in making sport figures influential cannot be overestimated and is a primary reason why twelve people in sports history were even included in a website that spans over 5,000 years of history.
The second lens, or underlying factor in choosing the selections was how prevalent is participation in a sport throughout the world coupled with the media coverage and revenue the sport generates. With this in mind, soccer came out on top as the most widely played with worldwide television coverage. This led to Pelé being the most influential in soccer’s history. For basketball, Naismith invented it; for football, Walter Camp came up with most of the essential rules; and for baseball, Babe Ruth single handedly reshaped the game while Jackie Robinson first integrated the sport in 1947. Babe Didrikson was an amazing female pioneer and led the way for other women including Billie Jean King. Boxing's Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali were widely influential and both captured a global audience. Finally, Abebe Bikela from Africa inspired a continent with his performances in the Olympic marathon.