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When the great Michael Jordan’s father died, to deal with his grief – and perhaps shy away from the pressures of professional basketball – Jordan took up baseball. He was really bad at it.
It turned out his father had wanted him to play baseball, but Michael’s gift lay in basketball.
Bo Jackson (pictured), on the other hand, had no problems moving from one sport to another.
As can be seen in the documentary You Don’t Know Bo, which airs on ESPN tomorrow, Jackson flipped from baseball to football and still managed to excel. He is the first athlete to be named an All-Star in two sports.
It’s like having Benni McCarthy shred the players on the soccer field and then cause more damage in the Springbok line-up. It is hard to fathom that it’s even possible, but that is what sets Jackson apart.
Usain Bolt, the fastest man alive, will (probably) always remain a runner, nothing more. Even if it is obvious that he loves soccer and may probably play for Manchester United in a charity match, he’ll never be good enough to actually share game time with Wayne Rooney.
This is why you need to pay attention to the Bo Jackson story – because some talented men can’t achieve the incredible with just one career, let alone two.
Directed by Michael Bonfiglio, this documentary was made for the ESPN 30 for 30 series: 30 documentaries about the top 30 achievers in the history of American sport. Each film aims to tell the story of a particular sports personality, taking sports fans back to their glory days.
In the storytelling, Bonfiglio tries to draw a line between the subject’s true triumphs and the urban legends because, let’s face it, when you become a superstar, fans stop at nothing to make their hero look invincible.
Bonfiglio considers Jackson a superhero out of a comic book. The director is glad that the Jackson story can be verified, because much of it reads like a cliché. That is just how incredible the man was.
For those who don’t know, American baseball and football are immensely physical sports that require one to be fit to the core. But that is just half of the job. Talent also counts for a whole lot. Jackson had both, lots of it.
If you grew up on cartoons then you’ll remember that somewhere in the early 1990s, there was a cartoon series called ProStars that featured animated versions of Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Jackson. They had superpowers which tied in with their talents. Jackson’s character had more air-time because of his multi-talented nature. As a result of a successful Nike advert –with the tagline: Bo Knows – the cartoon series also added that line in every episode to give the baseball and football star time to advise kids on life’s values.
Born Vincent Edward Jackson 50 years ago, the man showed an incredible talent for sport at an early age. When the time came for him to go to college, he turned down the New York Yankees’ baseball scholarship to pursue football at Auburn University, where he later joined the baseball team, too. The rest was history.
He went on to excel in the National Football League and Major League Baseball. You don’t have to be a fan of either sport, but when you watch this documentary, you will know who Bo Jackson is.
• You Don’t Know Bo airs on ESPN (DStv channel 230) tomorrow at 7pm.