We asked 9 professional athletes what sports they admire most.
This was less about specific athletes they admire than the sports that impress them and can't imagine doing.
The answers ranged from tennis to golf to fighting to equestrian.
Professional athletes are some of the most admired people on the planet. But who do they admire?
More specifically, what other types of athletes do they look at and marvel? What types of sports boggle the minds of the world's best competitors?
We asked nine professional athletes about what type of athletes they admire — not specific athletes, per se, but the sports that impress them most. Their answers ranged from golfers to tennis players to swimmers to gymnasts to jockeys.
Check out their answers below.
Some answers have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Eli Manning — former NFL quarterback
"One of my kids plays hockey, and I've gotten to go to a couple hockey games. Watching hockey playoffs, [you] just see an intense, intense match — seven games of hockey kind of back-to-back, I mean, what those guys and girls go through in those matches is pretty impressive. Maybe it's [because it's] new to me, and I'm learning what's going on. I see the idea of being athletic and making moves, yet on skates, something I've never been on before. It might be everything involved that impresses me about it. But I just know I have zero chance of doing it, so maybe that's why it maybe impresses me a little bit more than some other sports."
Tony Parker — former NBA point guard
"I remember just before the Olympics I went to see Michael Phelps practicing. They were in San Antonio with the US team doing a camp. And I was like, Man, those practices, like to stay in the pool all day long and go back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, not even be able to talk to your teammate or whatever. You stay in the water. I thought that was pretty hard ... I remember telling myself, I was like, Man, Michael Phelps is no joke.
"You look at Roger Federer and Nadal playing for six hours in the sun, and it's so hot ... beating each other up ... The thing with tennis is you never know how long it's gonna [last]. That's a tough thing, the mental side of it. You don't know when the game's gonna be over. And to keep playing, keep playing, keep playing. Because [your opponent] can suddenly play unbelievable. You play unbelievable. And then it takes forever."
Saquon Barkley — NFL running back
"The first place I would go is basketball. Obviously Kobe Bryant, rest in peace, that's someone who I look to right away. I'm a big fan of LeBron [James]. Steph Curry — there is a video that I was shown in college, and it was saying success is not an accident. It was based on Steph Curry, just the way his work ethic and how he comes in every single day, how he pushes himself, how he doesn't leave the gym until he swishes 10 free throws. I played basketball. I know how hard it is to just even make a free throw. And to be able to not leave until you swish however many the number was. He's not the biggest guy on the court. Not the strongest, not the fastest, but it's all about the reps. It's all about the work that he put in, and that's what makes him great. It just goes to show you that success is not an accident. Any time I'm kind of in that slump, I try to go back to that and fall back to my training and fundamentals."
Suni Lee — American gymnast
"In Auburn, we have an equestrian team, and I think that is one of the most impressive things ever. Just because you have to like, train a horse and you get a whole new horse every single time. They were explaining it to me, and I was just like, that just seems so hard to do. Gymnastics is so, so different. Like, I'm doing all this stuff every single day, repeating it every single day, and it's not like I have to change my horse [at the last minute]. I don't understand how they train with the same horse every single day, but they get to a meet or whatever and then they have to work with the whole different horse that they've never met. So I'm like, I don't know how you do that. I don't know… like, what if it just doesn't wanna cooperate with you and that's that, you just lose because the horse didn't wanna do anything?"
Jeremy Lin — former NBA guard
"I totally admire MMA. It's intensely physically grueling. And you could have months and months, you could have half a year of preparation end in a split second if you're just not ready. And there's just so many ways to win a fight; there's so many skills required. I mean, boxing is very special and unique, and I love boxing, too. But boxing is boxing, and then you have MMA or UFC that combines how many different types of martial arts together. To see the different styles and the wide array of skillsets, to me, is very intriguing."
Donte DiVincenzo — NBA guard
"For me, being a former soccer player, I think it's soccer. I think the process of becoming a high-level soccer player is super hard. The grind is super hard. There's so many different levels to it, different levels in each club and everything. And you look at the comparison of when you're climbing in club levels for soccer, and then you look at how guys come from the G League to the NBA, and they may only get a 10-day [contract] and they go back. I think for me, the comparison is there. So being able to go through it on the NBA side, to play soccer before that, that's where my appreciation is, because those guys have a really tough battle to the top. And once they're there, you see those guys keep getting better."
Diana Taurasi — WNBA guard
"When you watch what Simone [Biles] can do on those different apparatuses — it's just amazing, really. I mean, she's superhuman. So if I'd have a chance to meet her or go watch her, if that's an option, I would love to."
Mark Jackson — former NBA guard
"I would probably say football, baseball, and boxing. I grew up with Muhammad Ali being my guy. Looking at what it took to fight for three minutes, it looks easy until you get in there and understand the amount of wear-and-tear on your body and the demand that it puts on your body to go even three minutes. And back then, they were going 15 rounds. So, awfully impressed with that.
"I look at a guy like Tom Brady that's able to do it this late and still be this great. And it's an incredible testimony to his commitment to take care of his body and his willingness to compete at a high level and sacrifice."
Ish Smith — NBA guard
"I went to school with Webb Simpson. I went and played golf the other day before the season started, and I was freaking terrible! I'm being dead serious. I don't understand how you do that consistently— it's one of the hardest sports.
"When I look at Serena Williams, like, tennis is hard. That ball is coming 102, 103 miles per hour at you and your return, how you can back spin — I can take you through every sport.
"Quarterbacks: When you know everybody's position, that is crazy. I really, really, really respect Tom Brady. I was more of a Peyton Manning fan, but I have grown to really love Tom Brady ... His longevity has been something that, as he's gotten older, he's gotten better. And his mind, how he just breaks down every defense, how to get this guy the ball, how he's evolving and growing as he's gotten older is pretty special. But like I said, Peyton Manning coming up to the line, looking up, seeing, 'Oh, okay, a Cover 2 [defense], so we gonna call Z 24.' Like, that is crazy to know everybody's position and your offensive line like that. That stuff is freaking amazing."
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