Except in sports with measurable results, such as track and field or swimming , comparisons of athletes and teams from different eras are, at best, difficult. No one will ever conclusively resolve arguments about which athletes and teams were the greatest of all time, and that's as it should be.But computers have in recent years been supplying their own answers based on reams of statistical data.
Perhaps the first major use of a computer for this purpose occurred in 1967, when Rocky Marciano defeated Jack Dempsey in a hypothetical boxing tournament. More sophisticated software competitions are possible today, and a new book, "Computer Sports Matchups," offers perhaps the most authoritative conclusions to date.
Dr. Julian E. Compton, the author, has combined forces with Bruce M. Nash in putting together a Tempo paperback of "the greatest sports events that never happened." Among the results, Bjorn Borg beats Bill Tilden in the men's tennis final, while Suzanne Lenglen topples Helen Moody in the women's final. Jack Nicklaus holds off Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones in golf; the 1962 Green Bay Packers defeat the 1973 Miami Dolphins in pro football; Notre Dame's 1973 squad wins the college crown. In basketball, Wilt Chamberlain and the 1972 Los Angeles Lakers prevail in the pro ranks and the 1973 Bill Walton-led UCLA Bruins at the college level, while th e 1927 New York Yankees reign in baseball.