Join 3,431 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Great sports photos
January 2, 2013 2:52 PM   Subscribe

Sports Illustrated's 100 greatest sports photos of all time.
posted by Chrysostom (94 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Personally, I think this, this, and this are better pictures of the Mazeroski home run.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:54 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


My initial complaint was going to be, "WTF, no captions?" But then I discovered that the little "i" button down in the right toggles a slide-out caption, so instead I will simply complain, "WTF interface?"
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:58 PM on January 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Bless 'em for not making it a reloads-the-entire-page-every-time slideshow.
posted by troika at 2:59 PM on January 2, 2013 [15 favorites]


Some great shots in there for sure (Ali/Liston is sort of a given, no?), but I would have liked some commentary regarding why they were considered noteworthy. Was it the shot itself, or because of that particular touchdown/at-bat, etc.
posted by jquinby at 2:59 PM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Greatest sports photos of all time? Seems to be a pretty strong bias towards sports that are baseball, gridiron or basketball. Just saying.
posted by Jimbob at 2:59 PM on January 2, 2013 [17 favorites]


Oh, never mind. Just saw the comment above about the "i" button. Fuuu.
posted by jquinby at 3:01 PM on January 2, 2013


Bless 'em for not making it a reloads-the-entire-page-every-time slideshow.

I don't know if it's good or bad that this was my first thought also.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:02 PM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sure seems to be a lot of padding to get this up to 100. For instance, other than a pretty sunset, I'm not understanding what's so "100 greatest" about that pic of the Virgina Tech/Boston College game.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:03 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Needs more Tittle.
posted by TedW at 3:06 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


In case anyone's wondering, that rainbow trout with another rainbow trout inside it won the 100m hurdles in 1996.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:08 PM on January 2, 2013 [49 favorites]


A lot of these are unremarkable photos of remarkable (American) sporting events, but this one (#76) is amazing. It could be a still from Raging Bull.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:08 PM on January 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


The most amazing things about the old NBA pics are the shoes. I would love to see all of today's players running in Chucks.
posted by gnutron at 3:14 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Strong bias towards US sports, where's the football (soccer), gymnastics, athletics, cycling, winter sports (that aren't hockey), motorsports?
posted by arcticseal at 3:17 PM on January 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Whoever put that together should open up a Surfer Magazine or maybe Transworld Skateboarding sometime - those pages are filled with stuff that's both art and documentation of mindblowing athletic ability.
posted by blaneyphoto at 3:20 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


All these running backs and they can't find room for Sweetness?

Also these aren't in any order are they? Wouldn't that put Ali/Liston or Dimaggio at 1 and 2 or vice versa?
posted by Max Power at 3:22 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was glad to see they let in the dopers & gamblers; that Pete Rose shot is fantastic & Barry Bonds' too.
posted by chavenet at 3:23 PM on January 2, 2013


A lot of these are unremarkable photos of remarkable (American) sporting events,

Exactly. "Photos of greatest moments" rather than "greatest photos". Like the photo of "The Catch" is unremarkable without the caption.
posted by smackfu at 3:25 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Before everyone gets their panties in a wrinkle, obviously keep in mind that 90% of these photos are taken by SI photographers, and SI is an American publication that generally covers American sports. In other words, this is like when ESPN mentions Chris Broussard by name every time an NBA story breaks, and everyone else is referred to as "a source."
posted by phaedon at 3:28 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Three-foot, 112-pound Bobby Martin played on punt and kickoff coverage and was the backup varsity noseguard for Dayton's Colonel White High. Born without legs, he can't wear prosthetics because he has no thighs to affix them to.

I can't for the life of me figure out the mechanics of this.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:28 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Love the random fish.

Aesthetically speaking, I think the first one (Ali v Williams, from above) is unrivaled.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:28 PM on January 2, 2013


Exactly. "Photos of greatest moments" rather than "greatest photos". Like the photo of "The Catch" is unremarkable without the caption.

But this doesn't make the cut?

No wonder I don't buy that rag.
posted by Max Power at 3:28 PM on January 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


"I ain't got nothing to lose. I ain't got no money. I ain't got no teefus. And I definitely ain't got no drivers license. So what can the fuck can you do to me? Freaky Deaky.

This runs through my head every time I see Leon Spinks. It's an old one, but it's great.

The Abebe Bikila photo is fantastic. First time I've come across it.
posted by TrolleyOffTheTracks at 3:29 PM on January 2, 2013


Missing:
Jackie Robinson stealing home
Y.A. Tittle
Joe Namath after upsetting the Colts in the Super Bowl

Better pictures than what they included:
Michael Jordan dunking from the free-throw line
Brandi Chastain
posted by kirkaracha at 3:30 PM on January 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Gravity doesn't seem to affect some of these guys the way it does me.
posted by leftcoastbob at 3:32 PM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


But this doesn't make the cut?

Lower angle, full frame, in colour, #23.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:34 PM on January 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


I would have liked some commentary regarding why they were considered noteworthy. Was it the shot itself, or because of that particular touchdown/at-bat, etc.

Since the title is 100 All-Time Greatest Photos, I would expect all of the photos to be excellent photos, with most of the also being of particularly excellent plays. Quite a few of these are ordinary photos of extraordinary moments.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:35 PM on January 2, 2013


mudpuppie, which mechanics are you referring to, the inability to wear prosthetics or the ability to play football?

Regarding the latter, my guess is that Bobby Martin is placed on the line of scrimmage with a blocking assignment. Effectiveness aside, it certainly allows the guy the chance to play.
posted by CancerMan at 3:37 PM on January 2, 2013


Maybe I don't get sports photography, but it seems like a number of the better pictures are much lower on this list than they should be. The only one I thought was great in the top 30 or so was the Gherig picture.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:37 PM on January 2, 2013


Gene Siskel in #45.
posted by rlk at 3:38 PM on January 2, 2013


Oh... my bad. Thanks for pointing that out Sys Rq.
posted by Max Power at 3:42 PM on January 2, 2013


mudpuppie, which mechanics are you referring to, the inability to wear prosthetics or the ability to play football?

Regarding the latter, my guess is that Bobby Martin is placed on the line of scrimmage with a blocking assignment. Effectiveness aside, it certainly allows the guy the chance to play.


The latter.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm thrilled that he is/was able to play. I just can't picture it.

On preview: Or couldn't, until I googled. Awesome.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:46 PM on January 2, 2013


There seems to be a mix between photos that are great as photos and photos that are great because of the significance of the event they capture. #86 of Joe Montana is, to me, not an especially great photo. It could be of any quarterback in any game of football. It's only with the caption that explains that it was taken in the midst of an impressive drive to come from behind and win the Superball that it becomes at all interesting. It's not really a great photo; it's not even a great sports photo. It's a photo of a great sports event. (I assume. I know next to nothing about football.)
posted by synecdoche at 3:47 PM on January 2, 2013


#55 is one freaky shot... I'm pretty sure it shows the top of the Cathedral of Learning on the Pitt campus, a spot which is now long closed as it was apparently too tempting for suicides.

The city is tucked between hills, such that residents atop them look down upon it and its stadiums, as with Forbes Field in this shot. My relatives watched the whole town explode from high on Mount Washington when the Pirates won the '71 Series.
posted by kinnakeet at 3:48 PM on January 2, 2013


Re: #55, I'm pretty sure that that wasn't the only walk-off home run in World Series. It was the first to win the Series, but not the only walk-off. And, as a Canadian I am obligated to mention that Joe Carter winning the 1993 World Series with a long ball, so it is not even the only walk-off to win the Series.
posted by synecdoche at 3:53 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was there for this. As provincial as it was, people in LA felt like victory was UCLA's entitlement, so when they lost to Houston, and then beat them in the first game of the Final Four, the whole city was buzzing.

Made the second night, when they beat North Carolina, seem like an afterthought.
posted by Danf at 3:55 PM on January 2, 2013


synecdoche: "Re: #55, I'm pretty sure that that wasn't the only walk-off home run in World Series. It was the first to win the Series, but not the only walk-off. And, as a Canadian I am obligated to mention that Joe Carter winning the 1993 World Series with a long ball, so it is not even the only walk-off to win the Series."

It was the only Game 7 walk off, though-the Jays could have lost that game and still won the Series. See also this interesting Wikipedia history of World Series walk off homers.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:02 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


You want a walkoff home run, you need Kirby Puckett from '91.
posted by Ber at 4:06 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


This one is painful to look at.
posted by chavenet at 4:06 PM on January 2, 2013


Why is the Penn State one in there ? It's not even the record attendance, and the caption says that Penn State won - however, Penn state had those games vacated. They didn't win.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:07 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks, Chrosostom—the wording of the caption doesn't make that clear.
posted by synecdoche at 4:07 PM on January 2, 2013


Kirk Gibson's hair. Behold.
posted by davebush at 4:12 PM on January 2, 2013


I was there for this.

Cool. I was here. Man, Julius Peppers was fun to watch play basketball.
posted by lost_cause at 4:20 PM on January 2, 2013


And, this is the greatest sports gif.
posted by I'm Doing the Dishes at 4:24 PM on January 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


No photo of Jesse Owens beating the Nazis?
posted by Renoroc at 4:25 PM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


good to see they've got one of Gretzky scoring against the Canucks in one of their dipshit former uniforms. Lest we forget ... both the uniforms and how uniformly lousy the Canucks were for so very long.

We do still remember hockey, don't we? A sport that used to get played this time of year.
posted by philip-random at 4:27 PM on January 2, 2013


Yesssss. Bobby Orr.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:34 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Exactly. "Photos of greatest moments" rather than "greatest photos".



I guess I should have expected that, coming from a sports publication, but I couldn't help but be disappointed. I find sports photography wonderful and fascinating, but my interest is in the aesthetic quality of humans exerting themselves with no thought for anything except their goals, and the skill and luck it takes for a photographer to capture that . Whenever I see a collection curated by sports enthusiasts, it tends to skew toward he significance of the accomplishments of the athlete pictured - a frame of context I can't glean just by looking at the image.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:41 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pogo_Fuzzybutt: "Why is the Penn State one in there ? It's not even the record attendance,

Probably due to the impressive visual of the "white out."

and the caption says that Penn State won - however, Penn state had those games vacated. They didn't win."

"Vacating" is essentially ridiculous. The fact that the victory was nullified more than four years later doesn't change the fact that Penn State defeated Notre Dame in the actual game that was played.

This is not a defense of anyone's actions in the Sandusky case, just an opinion that vacating victories is a) pretty much always silly, and b) are especially so in this case, where the penalty is for something that had no effect on the game (as opposed to something like an ineligible player).
posted by Chrysostom at 4:52 PM on January 2, 2013


I call bullshit on a collection of great sports photos that doesn't include one soccer/football photo.

I would like to submit this as a contender. Also, this.
posted by young sister beacon at 4:52 PM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


louche mustachio: "Whenever I see a collection curated by sports enthusiasts, it tends to skew toward he significance of the accomplishments of the athlete pictured - a frame of context I can't glean just by looking at the image."

To an extent, though, isn't this true of most historical photographs? The photo of Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald is somewhat interesting as a stand alone, but in the context of the Kennedy assassination, it has a much greater impact.

It seems to me there is a purely artistic aspect and a contextual aspect to photography.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:55 PM on January 2, 2013


That picture of the jockey on Secretariat could've been a picture of any jockey on any racehorse in any situation. The appropriate picture to put that feat in context* is instead this.

*: I remember reading or hearing that the jockey didn't know how far ahead he was until that moment when he turned around, and when he did, he was suddenly afraid - as if he had just come closer to the world of gods than mortals should
posted by Flunkie at 4:55 PM on January 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


...that doesn't include one soccer/football photo.


Do women not count or something?
posted by Catch at 4:56 PM on January 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


i've always enjoyed painter eric joyner's take on #93
posted by bruceo at 4:58 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or amputees.
posted by Catch at 5:07 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Touch 'em all, Joe!"

Even if you grant them their America's-pastimes bias, surely SI could've found room in the Top 100 for the only come-from-behind walk-off home run to win it all in World Series history, doncha think?
posted by gompa at 5:07 PM on January 2, 2013


I'm impressed that they actually found a photo of Manny Ramirez exerting himself.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:10 PM on January 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


FOOTBALL!!!
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:14 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Needs more: Volleyball. Ice Skating. Surfing. Skateboarding. Skiing/snowboarding. Diving. Ping pong. Cycling. Rowing. Bowling. Handball. Racquetball. Jai alai (sp?)

Not to mention watermelon seed spitting, tire swinging, and bottle spinning.
posted by yoga at 5:19 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Ben Johnson shot (#32) holds up as a great image even if you don't know the background story with all its historical, biological, political, psychological and other implications. Although it might help to be Canadian.
posted by ecourbanist at 5:35 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


A much better photograph of Manny Ramirez, not exerting himself.
posted by violinflu at 5:53 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


My favorite picture of Manny Ramirez was when he tried to sell his grill on eBay (seriously). Then it turned out maybe it wasn't actually his grill, but his neighbor's grill, and eBay removed the listing.
posted by Flunkie at 6:01 PM on January 2, 2013


I suppose I understand why my favorite baseball photo is not in the list. I could be biased.

(While googling for it, I found that The Double has its own Wikipedia page. "The stretch and the 0–1 pitch on the way to Edgar Martínez -- swung on and lined down the left field line for a base hit! Here comes Joey! Here is Junior to third base -- they're going to wave him in! The throw to the plate will be... LATE! The Mariners are going to play for the American League Championship! I don't believe it! It just continues! My oh my!" Geez, it chokes me up to hear it to this day.)
posted by litlnemo at 6:27 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


(I was there that night and I can tell you that I have never, ever experienced an event like that, and probably never will again. The drama and the sheer joy of it -- even if the M's win the World Series someday, I don't think it would be like that.)
posted by litlnemo at 6:29 PM on January 2, 2013


There are sports images that are amazing because of the skill they display, and there are sports images that are amazing because of the events they describe. There are also sports images that are simply notorious. And then there are sports images that are amazing for all of these reasons.

Also, this list needs more cycling.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:35 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


And, this is the greatest sports gif.
posted by I'm Doing the Dishes at 4:24 PM on January 2


This is amusing, but the internet has decided that the greatest sports gif ever doesn't even feature athletes.
posted by jeremias at 6:47 PM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I beg to differ! My favorite sports gif ever that doesn't even feature athletes.
posted by Flunkie at 6:51 PM on January 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


notorious.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:35 PM on January 2


What notorious about that? The kid was making a move for the goal, Vinny had to take him out with a slide tackle.

(I have the slide tackle image as my desktop image at work. I love it when a new guy from the IT help desk comes by to take a look at my computer and does a double-take.)
posted by Ranucci at 7:05 PM on January 2, 2013


Surely sports illustrated have heard of Maradona?!

My personal favourite association football photo is this one.
posted by kiskar at 7:17 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mirroring the comments above. Some great photos but a huge USA bias and a huge bias to a small subset of primarily mainstream and male sports.
posted by greenhornet at 7:23 PM on January 2, 2013


Man, that picture of Julius Erving is just glorious.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:57 PM on January 2, 2013


This photo of Donovan Bailey crossing the finish line in Atlanta in 1996 is about a thousand times more interesting than the one shot of Usain Bolt doing his usual "no shit, I won" face.

Some amazing pictures. Love the shot of the paralympic swimmer. But not including the photo of Ralph Branca sprawled over the steps of the Dodgers clubhouse at the Polo Grounds after giving up The Shot Heard Round the World is a major oversight IMO. This one.
posted by dry white toast at 8:27 PM on January 2, 2013


Jackie Robinson stealing home. From a better angle than linked above, even.
posted by maryr at 9:30 PM on January 2, 2013


Man, that picture of Julius Erving is just glorious.
I'm a firm believer that glorious was Julius Erving's default setting.

With that out of the way I'll join in with the complaints on the US/mainstream focus (do we really need 2 shots of Joe Namath?) and add my candidate for an essential inclusion on any list of great sporting photos: the final play of the 1960 Tied Test between Australia and the West Indies.
posted by N-stoff at 9:44 PM on January 2, 2013


kiskar, you beat me to it. The Hand of God picture captures a moment of deliberate cheating that provoked a complete fiasco. how can that not even be on the LIST?!
posted by KathrynT at 9:57 PM on January 2, 2013


If they were going to include multiple Joe Namath photos, they could have at least found a place for this
posted by The Gooch at 10:04 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nolan Ryan is my pick.
posted by tamitang at 10:21 PM on January 2, 2013


You'll enjoy these more if you just go in assuming that it's simply a cool collection of sports photos and nothing more.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:33 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


A favorite of mine.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:45 PM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


So, far from being the 100 Greatest Sports Photos Of All Time, it's The 100 Greatest Photos That Our Employees Took Of American Sports Because We're An American Publication (Of All Time).

Just so I'm clear.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:30 AM on January 3, 2013


Find the ball competition.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:46 AM on January 3, 2013


It's a little grandiose, but just imagine how much it would cost to create a collection of 100 images your staff photographers didn't take.

I'm figuring this is actually a test run of Canon's new Project 1709, which is already looking like it's going to be a smoldering hunk of shit as far as cloud-based photo services go. Which is not to say that their competition is knocking out of the park. Don't even get me started.
posted by phaedon at 2:53 AM on January 3, 2013


Or... 100 Sports Photos That Will Appeal To Our Readers & That We Have The Rights To Use.

3 favourites that weren't included:

Fran Cotton
Mo Farah (top pic)
Lineker & Gazza
posted by DanCall at 2:55 AM on January 3, 2013


Ne'er mind all that - what abt this contender from the greatest game of all?
posted by awfurby at 3:19 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I beg to differ. This is the greatest sports gif of all time.
posted by elmer benson at 5:04 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


To be fair to SI, their title for it is "Sports Illustrated 100 All-Time Greatest Photos", they make no claim for general sports photo greatness, Chrysostom unnecessarily added that embellishment to the FPP.
posted by Authorized User at 6:41 AM on January 3, 2013


(I was there that night and I can tell you that I have never, ever experienced an event like that, and probably never will again. The drama and the sheer joy of it -- even if the M's win the World Series someday, I don't think it would be like that.)

I worked at a souvenir stand across the street from the Kingdome that entire season, and I agree. Say whatever you want about statistics, records and history, I will never be convinced that Edgar Martinez isn't the greatest baseball player to ever pick up a bat.

And this is the only Michael Jordan shot that needs to be in that collection.
posted by billyfleetwood at 6:48 AM on January 3, 2013


Surely the greatest sports gif of all time.
posted by troika at 6:56 AM on January 3, 2013


What about Georgia Tech V Cumberland, 1916?
posted by PHINC at 7:12 AM on January 3, 2013



What about Georgia Tech V Cumberland, 1916?


You really need to see the scoreboard on that one
posted by TedW at 7:19 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some rallying photos I like:
Rally Portugal, 1984
Rally Finland, 1967, 1972
posted by Authorized User at 7:23 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why this wasn't included baffles me.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:52 PM on January 3, 2013


Why are only some of the athletes that broke rules/doped/etc noted in their info yet some are somehow immune from such opprobrium? (I'm looking at you, Charlie Hustle)
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 9:33 PM on January 3, 2013


just an opinion that vacating victories is a) pretty much always silly, and b) are especially so in this case, where the penalty is for something that had no effect on the game (as opposed to something like an ineligible player).

Not having the coach, his training and tactics doesn't count?
posted by ersatz at 2:55 AM on January 4, 2013


ersatz: "Not having the coach, his training and tactics doesn't count?"

Sandusky's last game as a coach was in 1999. The pictured game was played in 2007.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:18 AM on January 4, 2013


« Older This past fall, comedians Sara Schaefer and Nikki ...  |  "Las Vegas bookmakers make the... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments