Harty: My Mount Rushmore and what a strange survey
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Shortly after Zach Johnson won the British Open on Monday, a debate started on Twitter about who should be on Iowa’s Mount Rushmore.
Johnson was suddenly a serious candidate after winning his second major – he also won the 2007 Master’s Tournament – and his 12th PGA event overall. It’s impressive enough that Johnson has won two majors, but to also have won 10 other PGA events takes his legacy to a different level, a level at which to me is worthy of Mount Rushmore status.
Joining Johnson on my Mount Rushmore would be Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller, wrestling legend Dan Gable and gold-medal gymnast Shawn Johnson, although, I could be talked into replacing either Johnson with NFL all-Pro quarterback and Super Bowl champion Kurt Warner.
Feller and Gable are no-brainers. Neither should even be subject to debate because their greatness is almost beyond comprehension.
Hall of Fame member Ted Williams called Feller “the fastest and the best pitcher I ever saw during my career.” Those are powerful words coming from arguably the greatest hitter in the history of the game.
After tweeting my Mount Rushmore, it didn’t take long for Hawkeye fans to lash out in disbelief and disgust over 1939 Heisman Trophy winner Nile Kinnick not being on it. I tried to explain that the criteria for this particular Mount Rushmore was sports only, but some fans wouldn’t budge in their belief that Kinnick deserved to be on it.
My biggest reason for leaving Kinnick off my Mount Rushmore is that he didn’t play professional football, whereas the other four all reached the pinnacle of their sport and became stars in the process, superstars in the cases of Feller and Gable.
Kinnick chose to serve his country after graduating from college instead of pursuing professional football. He was an incredible football player and even a better person from all accounts who died far too soon on a training flight mission in 1943.
Kinnick would be a lock on my Mount Rushmore of legends/inspirations from the state of Iowa. He was much bigger than just sports, as was Feller, who served as a volunteer with the United States Navy during World War II from 1941-45.
A native of Van Meter, Feller was the first professional athlete to enlist.
As for Zach Johnson, perhaps the only thing the Cedar Rapids native does better than manipulate a golf ball is conduct himself with class and dignity. I’ve never had the privilege to meet him or cover one of his events. But I’ve never heard one person say anything bad about him.
Zach’s golf game speaks for itself, but his character and reputation are shaped in part by the perception of others.
Johnson also connects with a number of groups. He grew up in Cedar Rapids, played golf at Drake and he loves the Hawkeyes. That covers a lot of territory.
STRANGE SURVEY: With its recent survey for football season tickers holders, I applaud the Iowa Athletic Department for trying to be proactive.
It’s usually wise to connect with fans in order to see how they feel about certain things.
But to ask ticket holders to rank on a scale of 1-to-10 the importance of winning, graduating players and doing it right, as this survey did, is ridiculous and a waste of time.
It also has been subject to ridicule as the national media jumped all over the story, wondering what Iowa hoped to accomplish and why any UI official would even suggest that these three principles need to be prioritized.
It’s sort of like as asking parents of a student to rank the importance of teaching, protecting and nurturing. The only real answer is 10 to all of the above in both cases.
But what if a majority of the tickets holders ranked winning as a 10 and doing it right as a 1? Would we suddenly start seeing Iowa football players driving shiny, new expensive sports cars and carrying wads of cash from a secret slush fund?
Of course, not.
That’s why the survey is just kind of silly because what did Iowa officials plan to do with the answers? They shouldn’t have to be reminded that fans value winning above everything else. Nor should fans be asked to prioritize between winning, graduation and doing it right.
Fans would prefer that their players graduate and that their team plays by the rules, but they’re more willing to look the other way during times of success.
It’s obvious that UI officials are feeling pressure with football ticket sales and apathy heading in different directions.
Pressure can bring out strange behavior, which leads to a strange survey.