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Round 3 begins: Jim Thorpe (1) vs. Sid Caesar

Today’s contest is a tough call. Caesar is the king of live TV, a real originator—but he did not write his own material, so it could be risky to invite him without getting Carl Reiner, Woody Allen, etc., as support staff. Thorpe is a legend but probably not much of a performer. Both Caesar and Thorpe suffered from alcoholism—but if that were disqualifying, about half the seminar bracket would have to go.

So what do you want to see: Sid Caesar struggling to ad lib with a not-so-funny academic audience, or Jim Thorpe doing the high jump and I don’t know what else for an hour? Your arguments, your call.

Again, here are the rules and here’s the bracket:


  1. Jonathan (another one) says:

    Thorpe was played in the movies by Burt Lancaster. Caesar was played by Joseph Bologna.

    Ham vs bologna? Thorpe.

  2. Dalton says:

    Caesar may have originally meant “hairy” as its original cognomen, but now means dictator. On the otherhand, Jim Thorpe was born Wa-Tho-Huk, which translates as “path lit by great flash of lightning” or simply “Bright Path.” Clearly, Sid’s talk would simply be dictating, whereas Jim’s talk would be illuminating.

  3. There’s a trampoline park in Jim Thorpe, PA, which suggests to me that Thorpe might bring a trampoline for us to bounce on whenever we wished. If not, it so happens that a different Jim Thorpe is co-owner of two franchises of the trampoline park “Rockin’ Jump.” He might be willing to lend us a trampoline for the occasion, given the honor bestowed on his name. I have never been to a trampoline-equipped seminar before, but I would gladly attend one. And even if there can be no trampoline, just the thought of it propels me Thorpewards.

  4. zbicyclist says:

    If we go by pure uniqueness of the experience, it has to be Thorpe. Tremendous multi-sport athlete. A man breaking barriers for Native Americans. A man cruelly wronged by getting paid a pittance:

    “Thorpe had indeed played professional baseball in the Eastern Carolina League for Rocky Mount, North Carolina, in 1909 and 1910, receiving meager pay; reportedly as little as US$2 ($54 today) per game and as much as US$35 ($941 today) per week. College players, in fact, regularly spent summers playing professionally but most used aliases, unlike Thorpe.

    Although the public did not seem to care much about Thorpe’s past, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), and especially its secretary James Edward Sullivan, took the case very seriously. Thorpe wrote a letter to Sullivan, in which he admitted playing professional baseball:

    ‘I hope I will be partly excused by the fact that I was simply an Indian schoolboy and did not know all about such things. In fact, I did not know that I was doing wrong, because I was doing what I knew several other college men had done, except that they did not use their own names …’

    His letter did not help. The AAU decided to withdraw Thorpe’s amateur status retroactively. Later that year, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) unanimously decided to strip Thorpe of his Olympic titles, medals and awards and declare him a professional.

    Although Thorpe had played for money, the AAU and IOC did not follow the rules for disqualification. The rulebook for the 1912 Olympics stated that protests had to be made “within” 30 days from the closing ceremonies of the games. The first newspaper reports did not appear until January 1913, about six months after…” (Wikipedia)

    Thorpe, as a GOAT, is the anti-Lance Armstrong. Armstrong was a single-sport athlete, a white male, and cheated (with denials) for years.

    We could even add the “Jim Thorpe fallacy” to the statistical lexicon ( ). The Jim Thorpe fallacy would be focusing on a relatively unimportant detail of an analysis as an excuse to devalue the larger importance of a data set. A quick example might be focusing on the fact that 2018’s global temperature was slightly below 2017’s, and ignoring the longer trend (source graph: ), but I do NOT want to start a climate change flame war here.

    Sid Caesar would likely be good, but in the same vein as other great sketch comedians.

  5. J Storrs Hall says:

    “In track and field [while at Carlisle], Thorpe excelled in every event and often broke records at meets. Thorpe also led his small school to football victories over larger, more famous colleges, including Harvard and West Point. Among the opposing players he met on the field was future president Dwight D. Eisenhower of West Point.” Note that the football coach at Carlisle was none other than Glenn “Pop” Warner.

    So, we have on the one hand an Isaac who was technical advisor to A Guide For The Married Man, and on the other someone who may well have run into (and knocked over) Ike.

    Tough call.

  6. Homer Paxton says:

    One would have to be as old as I to remember Jim Thorpe record. His record was stil written about when I was growing up. I think few people whom are young and not yanks would know whom he is

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