Individual dominance in a sport

Probably not officially. If so, it would rearrange the final standings of some positions, since lower finishes that no longer received points would now have received some. NASCAR likes to change their points system every few years, lately, and if you applied the current points system to 1992, Kyle Petty, of all people, would have been the champion.

Yasuhiro Yamashita was the greatest competitive judoka of the modern era. Undefeated in 204 consecutive matches over eight years, he scored 194 ippons. He won

* 85 All-Japan Championships - Tokyo, Japan
* 84 Olympic Games (Open) - Los Angeles, CA, USA
* 84 All-Japan Championships - Tokyo, Japan
* 83 World Championships (+95kg) - Moscow, Russia
* 83 All-Japan Championships - Tokyo, Japan
* 82 All-Japan Championships - Tokyo, Japan
* 81 World Championships (+95kg & Open) - Maastricht, Holland
* 81 All-Japan Championships - Tokyo, Japan
* 80 All-Japan Championships - Tokyo, Japan
* 79 World Championships (+95kg) - Paris, France
* 79 All-Japan Championships - Tokyo, Japan
* 78 All-Japan Championships - Tokyo, Japan
* 77 All-Japan Championships - Tokyo, Japan

See for yourself.


Sébastien Loeb has won the last 7 world rally championships.

It’s hard to compare stats, given the relatively small sample size and variable growth of the sport, but on the women’s side of hockey the name I hear the most as “best player” is Hayley Wickenheiser. This might be in part because a lot of my media is Canadian, but looking at her bioI’m suitably impressed! I know when I manage to catch a Team Canada game, I definitely notice how strong a player she is.

Kim St. Pierre is also an impressive goalie - I can’t seem to find a good reference to see how she stacks up in comparison to others, though there is this Hockey Canada page (which seems out of date).

I don’t know if either of these women have had careers long enough to truly be called dominant - only time will tell - but I think the foundations have been laid for something to aim for for players who come next!

He didn’t like hand jobs?

How could I forget Eddie Merckx? Nicknamed The Cannibal he absolutely dominated cycling in the late sixties and seventies. It’s true that Armstrong dominated the Tour for seven years, but Merckx dominated the entire cycling year.

You really can’t, since the differential between positions and the number of positions that score has changed. Doing so could retroactively change season-ending rankings, perhaps even who was the champion. Also the point system affects teams’ behavior - there could be a big fight for 6th when it was the last point scoring place, but these days it’s no big deal.

Unofficially you could look at how many points would have been scored under the current system, but it’s comparing apples and oranges.

I suspect a lot of this is just Herzogian hyperbole, but in the 70’s he made a short documentary called “The Great Ecstasy of the Sculptor Steiner” that was about a ski jumper in the 70’s who utterly dominated the then-new ski flying event. For example, at the world championship that most of the film is shot at, he was using half the slope for fear of overflying the landing area, but still making substantially longer jumps than his nearest competitors, who were using the whole slope.

Looking at the wiki page for Walter Steiner he doesn’t seem all that noteworthy, beyond being the subject of the Werner Herzog film. I don’t know if this was just because ski flying was relatively new and Steiner was a pioneer, since eclipsed by later jumpers, or if it was just an example of loose interpretation of the facts not unheard of in Herzog documentaries.

(At any rate, it’s not a bad film and has some cool super slo-mo footage of old ski jumpers. It’s available on netflix instant.)

One factor that is extremely difficult to quantify is that Orr was a defenseman. How do you compare? As great as Gretzky was, and I’m not disputing that, I tend to think that 5 Bobby Orr’s and a goalie would beat 5 Wayne Gretzky’s and a comparable goalie. And, of course, Orr’s knees did him in.

That’s what hypothetical sports arguments are made of.