The reasons are simple. Professionalism and the rewards on offer for success mean there has never been a bigger incentive to be the best. Phil Taylor, a ten times world champion, has made himself a household name in the unlikely sport of darts. Lance Armstrong has beaten cancer and the best the cycling world can offer to win four straight Tour de France.
The triumvirate of Bradford Bulls, Wigan Warriors and St Helens share the spoils season after season in rugby league while domestic and 2002 European champions Leicester have until recently been the dominant club force in the game of rugby union. The list goes on. Of course, the best teams and players from years gone by dominated their sport, but never in the way seen nowadays.
Financial security for life and international stardom are there to be enjoyed and make the hours spent on fitness and practice worthwhile. The level of training has become more sophisticated. Where once sportsmen would retire from the field of play for beer and cigarettes, now regimented diets and fitness plans are the order of the day. Psychological and motivational training, once mentioned with a smirk, have raised the performance levels of numerous athletes in various sports.