Wikipedia:WP:Athlete is not exclusionary

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Many Articles for Deletion discussions on sports figures are often begun with a phrase such as the following:

There are several faults with this statement, first and foremost is that WP:ATHLETE is a guideline and not a policy, secondly that simply making a statement without supporting information is not the best approach in the discussion, and thirdly that another editor may interpret the guidelines differently and find that the guideline is actually met. But the fourth reason is that the statement (or argument) seems to take the stance that since the article does not met the WP:ATHLETE guidelines, it must be deleted.

Let's be clear: Abraham Lincoln doesn't meet the guidelines of WP:ATHLETE, but that doesn't mean the article on him should be deleted. Athletes can achieve notability through other means, as Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford did. Or, athletes who haven't met any guidelines of WP:ATHLETE such as "not playing at the highest professional level" could nevertheless have enough widespread significant coverage to qualify under the general notability guidelines.

The WP:ATHLETE guidelines are meant to be "inclusive" and not "exclusive": Meeting them suffices for inclusion, but failure to meet them is not grounds for exclusion. Several pertinent discussions illustrating this principle:

WP:ATHLETE might not be inclusionary, either[edit]

On the opposite side of the spectrum, many AfDs also see arguments such as the following:

Some editors, though, believe that meeting WP:ATHLETE should not automatically qualify an individual for inclusion, if that individual does not otherwise meet the general notability guideline, particularly in cases where an individual only ever played in one professional game (or even just a few minutes of one professional game) and nothing more can be said about them; WP:ATHLETE is only a guideline, whereas Ignore All Rules is a policy, and sometimes it may be necessary to think critically about the guideline in order to uphold the "spirit" of Wikipedia standards rather than the letter of it.

This stance is controversial, however. Many editors believe WP:ATHLETE should be upheld even in cases such as those described above, for several reasons (even if the athlete only played in one pro game, there may be coverage of their college or amateur careers; because making exceptions to WP:ATHLETE would undermine the objective standard we have now and replace it with an arbitrary one; etc.)—see, for example, Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Jim Schelle.

See also[edit]