Spitz Still Non-Committal About Phelps on CNN’s “Piers Morgan”

  24 Braden Keith | July 11th, 2012 | Featured, London 2012 Olympics

Mark Spitz appeared on CNN’s “Piers Morgan” talk show last night, and despite promising to finally commit as to who would have won in a race on an even playing field, Spitz again called the tie.

“If I was great because I knew everything I needed to know to beat that other person, then I would have to know everything that would be necessary to beat Michael. And likewise, he would have to know everything to beat me. So the answer is we’d have to tie,” Spitz told Morgan.

But watch the video below. He didn’t entirely pass up the opportunity to talk a little bit of trash as he tells Morgan why he might have beat Phelps.

Video courtesy: CNN

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24 Comments on "Spitz Still Non-Committal About Phelps on CNN’s “Piers Morgan”"

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4 years 3 months ago

Yesterday was not a good day for Michael it seems…lol
The man is crazy, Phelps FTW.

bobo gigi
4 years 3 months ago

What have they all against Michael these days? It’s curious.

4 years 3 months ago

I think the saying, “It’s a long road to the top, but it has the best view” can help to explain this. People like Clary have not yet been to the top of the mountain. Thus, it’s their own jealosy of Phelps. They sit there and train so hard and yet they still aren’t as good as their competitor, so what else can you do? You can take the path Lochte did and pay respect to Phelps even while saying you want to win, or you try to cut down your opponent by saying whatever you need to do to make you feel better. Clary called out Phelps because he thought Phelps doesn’t work hard. He also said it would be a huge moment for him if he beats Phelps. I find humor in those 2 statements because the 3rd conclusion you can draw is that what happens if (or when in my opinion) Phelps wins, and Clary feels Phelps does not work hard…what does that say about Clary’s performance? The answer is, Clary cannot beat Phelps when Phelps is not at his best while Clary is. That is far more defeating than if he just kept his mouth shut and said nothing and came in 2nd.

As for Spitz, you do have to give him his due. He won his 7 golds, and nobody can take that away from him. However, it’s better not to compare the two, because if you start doing that, the scales will be tipped in Phelps favor. #1, he won more golds than Spitz in one Olympics. #2, his times he won with are faster than Spitz. So I personally would rather appreciate both for what they did for USA swimming instead of trying to find who was “better”.

Jean Michel
4 years 3 months ago

This Spitz guy is away from reality ! and jaleous probably ! he doesn’t deserve any attention at all ! by the way ,action is the real talk MR Spitz . Give us a break . Thanks

4 years 3 months ago

“This Spitz guy?” Clearly you know nothing about swimming history…

4 years 3 months ago

Of course Spitz would say he could have beat Phelps. He was a great competitor in his day, and that was the way he approached his races. Nothing wrong with that.

4 years 3 months ago

Except for the fact that, as a sport that relies on a clock, swimming is completely objective. So to say that you would tie (or beat) someone when the data shows otherwise, is either a lie or a refusal to confront reality.

Spitz forgets that there’s a difference between who’s “better” and who’s “faster.” “Better” allows for subjective comparison of achievements across time, suit differences, caps, and advancements in training. “Faster” is objectively decided by comparing times.

To admit that Phelps is faster does nothing to diminish Spitz’s accomplishments, so I don’t understand his need to play this ridiculous charade or why we should give it any attention.

4 years 3 months ago

If you really wanted to figure out who was faster, you’d have to take into account how Spitz would do training-wise with today’s coaches and/or how Phelps would do training-wise back in the 70’s. There’s no real way to do this, but one could argue that today’s training is much better with better equipment, better training techniques, and better coaching. Not to mention the general swimmer physique at the international level has gotten much bigger. So would Spitz be able to keep up with these bigger guys if he were in his prime today? Again, impossible to answer, but you have to either ask that, or ask would Phelps have been as fast as he is in his prime as he would be in 1972? No Bob Bowman, no hy-tech gear. More primitive training.

who knows?

Jamie Lindsay
4 years 3 months ago

For those of us old enough to remember Spitz and his failed career after his amazing Olympics, we are reminded again both Spitz and his career fizzled because of his Olympic sized ego and an amazing lack of talent and personality. Spitz was given chance after chance to lift his star but he always failed, miserably. So, now every four years, his agent drags him out of mothballs, gets him a new hairdo and jacket and gets him booked on cable networks. Then, all over again, Spitz proves to everyone why his swimming talent required no personality or other marketable skills. He deserves much respect for what he did in the pool, but PLEASE get him off my TV!

4 years 3 months ago


I stopped taking your comment seriously the moment I saw “an amazing lack of talent”.
Call Spitz whatever you want, big ego, etc, but lacking talent he was not.

4 years 3 months ago

Spitz would have lost if it was going to be a tie. Phelps would be smart enough to shave off that stupid mustache.

4 years 3 months ago

Everytime Spitz opens his mouth he reduces slightly my appreciation for his excellence. I think if they were both racing in the same era, Phelps would beat him 75% of the time. Phelps never flaked out. He has an ego, but not like Spitz. He doesn’t seem to carry the “me against everyone” chip on his shoulder that Spitz did.

I do not “get” Tyler Clary. I was happy for him at Trials. But now he needs to downgrade Phelps’ accomplishments because he doesn’t work as hard?

4 years 3 months ago

I wasn’t alive when Spitz swam, and really didn’t know of his existence until Phelps’ performance’s brought his name back to public limelight, but based on what I’ve seen of him, my judgment is that he has a huge ego.

He was pissed he didn’t get a free ticket to Beijing. Yes, I would have been pissed too, but there is no need to make that statement on national television, and then be passive aggressive and be like “I’m not going to go there no matter what, I’m just going to watch it on tv”. Its like saying I didn’t get invited to that party, so I’m going to sit at home and listen to my own music.

Also, something tells me that when the next Phelps comes along, Phelps will willingly say “*inset name* is better”. Spitz just won’t admit it even though practically all the pundits, critics, experts and coaches already have.

4 years 3 months ago

Also, its entertaining to think that Liu Zige in a lzr has been faster than Spitz most of this career.

4 years 3 months ago

Many girls today are equal to the men of 50 ago. Some are edging closer to 40 years behind. The backs & breasts have technical deductions eg turn & head placement.

They are very close in the 400 free & to a lesser extent in 200 & 400ims (but these have the Ba & Br technical changes )

The women are nowhere near Mark Spitz’s 100 /200 free & fly. There was no 50 free but he would have won that also.

4 years 3 months ago

“Nowhere near”? In 1972 Spiz won gold in the 200m free with a time of 1:52.78. The female world record is 1:52.98. He also won the 100m free with a time less than a second under the current female world record.

So really, this thread should be about whether or not Mark Spitz could beat Britta Steffen and Federica Pelligrini. He`s not good enough to belong in the same pool as Phelps or the other top male swimmers.

4 years 3 months ago

WhenSpitz was swimming the United states was the main force in the sport, competition was not as great as it is today. Phelps also has 14 gold medals and has been a lot more consistent with his performances. How did his comeback go? Exactly. Stop hating Spitz. You would’ve been beat by the greatest of them all Micahel Phelps. And I heard he is lazy. Hahaha!

4 years 3 months ago

I would like to remind posters here about Munich 1972 & the massacres. Mark Spitz was ferried out of Germany being seen as a high value target. He was not able to swan around the village.

That the most outstanding athlete of Munich games not only was jewish but survived & prospered hurts the PLO as much as the Mossad reprisals.

You think Mark is arrogantyet I think he stands proudly as an american & Jewish & a big FU to the PLO.

Who knows perhaps Phelps will be a giant one day also. So fae he is just a lanky fast swimming person.

Glory to Mark. Death to the PLO. Yes yes we remember.

4 years 3 months ago

The negative comments about Spitz are not only unwarranted, but unnecessary. Although many of us were not alive when Spitz won his 7 gold medals in 1972, we were all aware of his accomplishment as we grew through the age-group ranks. Spitz set the benchmark for us all to aspire. He was/is an American Olympic icon. Without Spitz, there would be no Phelps. What are the chances that Phelps had a poster of Spitz hanging right next to the one of Ian Crocker?

It took 36 years, or 9 Olympic Games, for any athlete to match or better Spitz’s mark. Only two men came close prior to Phelps in 2008. The first was Biondi in 1988 with 5 golds, a silver, and a bronze. The second was Phelps in 2004 with his 6 golds and 2 bronzes. We should also note the achievement of Kristin Otto in 1988 with 6 gold medals.

With that said, I can appreciate some of your feelings about Spitz’s ego; however, that ego is shared among the greats. We recently saw that same ego revealed in Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame acceptance speech. It is that “chip on the shoulder” mentality that propels these athletes to achieve. Does anyone think that Jordan will somehow be made to believe that Kobe Bryant is better than him if he wins seven championships? Does anyone think that Jordan would admit that he could not compete with Bryant in his prime?

As others have pointed out, it is nearly impossible to compare these athletes in their primes because of the differences in technology; diet; training methods; and competition. Perhaps the greatest football team of all time, the 1985 Chicago Bears, would be challenged by today’s worst NFL team based on the differences of the times. If only there was a movie based on this type of comparison. There was — Rocky Balboa. I won’t spoil it for you.

If there is any allowance for questioning Spitz, it can be based on his answer to Piers’ last question of the interview, “Have you lost a swimming race in the last 30 years?” To which Spitz responded, “Not really.” In fact, he lost two in two weeks in 1991. The first was by nearly two seconds to Tom Jager in the 50m fly. The second, by a greater margin, to Matt Biondi in the 50m fly.

4 years 3 months ago

Just so that everyone is aware, swimming is not the only sport where comparisons of the ages are being discussed in the media:

Charles Barkley fires back at Kobe

4 years 3 months ago

I’m proud of my roots

4 years 3 months ago

You guys are too funny. Spitz went 2.00 in the 200 fly without goggles, a mustache and tons of hair. Not to mention antiquated training methods.

Look at videos from 72. They ALL had horrible starts and swimming technique. It’s not Spitz was a lesser talent than Phelps, they just didn’t know jack back then.

I’ll give the edge to Phelps (in the 200 fly) just because he’s a freak physically (lactate levels, size ratio between body parts etc) but I’m sure it would be closer than you think. Or I might be wrong, and someone else from the 70’s would’ve benefitted much more from the advantages of today!

cynthia curran
4 years 3 months ago

That’s true about the difficulties being a Jewish swimmer back in 1968 and 1972. According to Spitz’s bio some of his teammates put him down for being Jewish in 1968 that a Jewish person could beat White Anglo-Saxon swimmers. Granted, I image that there were Jewish and Italian swimmers in the US before. In fact I found out in masters that during the 1950’s a Japanese man in the US won the 100 meter back. Also, Duke K was a pacific Islander and the past freestyler even under more primitive conditions. The early 1970’s was the era when elite swimmers started working out double workouts

Eric Lahmy
4 years 3 months ago

How can you expect that Mark Spitz answers to such a question. Mark was a champion! He was proud. He is proud… Okay, his 100 butterfly was 54”27, but it was, by far, the best his era could produce. And his runner-up was more than one second behind. And he didn’t train a lot even for his era. And he was not a professionnal. He could not swim after 1972. He was 22 years old. Spitz could have won easily in 1976 and be the best butterflyer until 1980. And he was a silver medallist in 1968. Let say that Spitz was the Michael Phelps of his era and Phelps is the Spitz of to-day…


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Braden Keith

The most common question asked about Braden Keith is "when does he sleep?" That's because Braden has, in two years in the game, become one of the most prolific writers in swimming at a level that has earned him the nickname "the machine" in some circles. He first got his feet …

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