Yet, each event that comprises the decathlon is competed by a different athlete focused solely on that singular event that comprises the decathlon in a separate Olympic event. Moreover, no athlete focused on one of the individual 10 events that comprises the decathlon extends himself to compete in any one of the singular events outside of the decathlon.
When it's all said and done, the decathlon winner is declared the world’s greatest athlete. How can this be? Watching decathletes compete in any of the 10 decathlon events leaves you flat at best because you've seen other athletes compete in each event at a higher level.
I'll expound my point.
Decathlete Damian Warner of Canada won the 100-meter dash in the decathlon, covering the requite terrain in 10.3 seconds, Usain Bolt of Jamaica won the 100-meter dash in the singular Olympic event with a 9.81-second sprint. The eighth-place finisher to Bolt in the 100-meter dash, Trayvon Bromell of the United States, covered the same 100 meters in 10.06 seconds.
There's more, of course. Kevin Mayer of France won the decathlon pole vault, clearing a horizontal pole set 5.4 meters (17.7 feet) high. Thiago Braz da Silva of Brazil won the singular Olympic pole vault, clearing a pole set 6.03 meters (19.8 feet). The 11th place finisher in the singular Olympic pole vault, German Chiaraviglio, cleared 5.5 meters (18 feet).
As for 2016 Olympic decathlon champion, Ashton Eaton, United States, he won two of the 10 decathlon events -- the long jump and the 400-meter race. Eaton won the long jump with a 7.94 meters (26 feet) leap. He won the 400-meter race circling the track in 46.07 seconds.
As for the singular Olympic event winners of the decathlon events Eaton won, Jeff Henderson, United States, won the singular long jump with a 8.38 meter (27.5 feet) jump. Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa won the singular 400-meter race with a time of 43.03 second. Eaton's distance and time wouldn't have advanced him past any preliminary round in the singular events.
You get the point: In every event the decathlete competed, he was easily outdistanced or outperformed by the counterpart athletes competing in the singular events. The world's "greatest" athlete, the decathlon winner, would fail to compete in the Olympics if he were to compete in any of the singular events that comprise the decathlon. Yet the athlete who gives the least sub-par performance among the other sub-par performances in the decathlon is crowned "The World's Greatest Athlete." This is nonsense.
There’s a lesson here: Concentrated effort beats diffused effort,specialization beats generalization. Better to master one discipline than to diversity across many.
In the decathlon, a gaggle of guys focus on multiple, disparate events. Because the athlete's attention is spread among many events, he fails to master any event. Decathletes are jack of all trades and the masters of none. They are the handymen of the summer Olympics.
My experience with handymen? Always disappointing.The quality of the handyman’s work rarely approaches that of the craftsman focused on his singular craft. The guy who claims he can paint your house, mow your lawn, fix your plumbing rarely performs any one of the tasks to the standards of the painter, the landscaper, and the plumber.
The fact is that no “greatest” athlete exists. Athletes are great only within a specific, singular athletic endeavor. The one athlete who half-assed (I speak clinically: Nothing but a half-assed effort can be given, if the effort was deliberately diffused.) his way through 10 disparate track-and-field events better than other athletes who half-assed their way through the same 10 events cannot lay claim to the nonexistent title of world's greatest athlete. The decathlete would be easily beaten in any of the 10 events if he were to compete against the athletes focused on the singular event. How, then, can the decathlon winner be crowned the world's greatest athlete?