Populating the next seven pages are 42 athletes who represent
the best of this sporting epoch, six nominees in each of seven
categories for our 20th Century Sports Awards. How did we narrow
100 years of extraordinary achievement to that small number?
With blood, sweat and tears. More arduous still is the task of
choosing a winner in each category. But we will: They will be
announced on Dec. 2 at Madison Square Garden during a live
broadcast on CBS at 9:00 p.m. ET. On that same evening we will
also crown our Sportsman or Sportswoman of the Century.
There is yet another group of athletes deserving of special
accolade, and we will honor them as well that night, under the
banner of "Athletes Who Changed the Game." This superb septet
comprises Peggy Fleming, whose skating artistry launched a
golden era in her sport; Billie Jean King, who battled for the
betterment of women's tennis and all women's sports; Arnold
Palmer, who took golf out of the country clubs and gave it to
the public; Pele, whose dazzling skills kick-started soccer in
North America and raised the game's standards around the globe;
Richard Petty, the benevolent King who popularized NASCAR;
Jackie Robinson, who famously and courageously broke baseball's
color line; and Bill Russell, who taught the NBA how to play
defense and how to win.
In all, then, we salute 49 men and women. What we're really
saying, to all of them, is thanks.