ESPN Kids Writer Mailbag Week of 6/15

Q: If a person plays goalie in soccer, do they have to work just as hard as the players up front? Mike from Texas
A: Mike, you bet they do! Even though soccer goalies don't run around as much as some of their teammates, they have to work just as hard to prepare for the game. In fact, one might argue that they have to work even harder! Goalies have a ton of pressure on them. They are the last line of defense. If they make a mistake, the other team scores a goal. They constantly have to be on the top of their game. In soccer, it is important for everybody on the team to be on the same page. All players have to be prepared and work together.

Q: If you're just getting interested in sports, how do you know which sport is best for you? Audrey from Texas
A: Audrey, that's a tough question. My suggestion would be to try out a bunch of sports to see which one you like best! If you're just getting into sports, you shouldn't only base your decision on what activity you do well in. There will be plenty of time to improve as you grow up. You should find a sport that you enjoy and makes you happy. If you like running long distances, maybe try out track and field. If you like using your feet, try soccer. If you love the water, try swimming. The important thing is that a young people should not limit themselves to one sport. So, try everything and see what you like!

Q: Who is the greatest athlete in the world? Reina from North Carolina
A: Reina, that's another tough question! Somebody may be the fastest person in the world; another may be able to jump the highest. Usually, the winner of the Olympic decathlon earns the title of the World's Best Athlete. At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, an American athlete named Brian Clay won the gold medal in the decathlon. The decathlon consists of 10 events: The 100-meter run, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400-meter run, 110-meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and the 1,500-meter run. The point of the event is to test an athlete's speed, jumping ability, strength and endurance. Clay won the gold medal in the decathlon to earn the unofficial title of "World's Best Athlete."

Q: Which athlete has scored the most points ever in basketball? Keith from New Jersey
A: Keith, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA's all-time leading scorer. He played from 1969-1989 with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers, scoring 38,387 points. The rest of the top five scorers are:
Karl Malone - 36, 374 points
Michael Jordan - 32,292 points
Wilt Chamberlin - 31,419 points
Moses Malone - 27,409 points

Q: Who do you think is the best dunker of all time in pro basketball? Meghan from New Mexico
A: Meghan, there are a number of great dunkers who I would consider the best. Of course, there is Michael Jordan. He earned the nickname "Air Jordan" because of the way he seemed to fly to the basket. He won the slam-dunk contest in 1987 and 1988 and influenced countless numbers of young players. Julius Erving was another great dunker. He played in the American Basketball Association in the early 1970s before the league merged with the NBA in 1976. Nicknamed Dr. J, Erving was one of the first players to effectively use dunks to consistently score points.

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