There are a number of athletes I follow and scientists with multiple papers that I've read. Most of these runners, climbers and scientists my fellow runners, climbers and science students have never heard of much less the general public. Several times this summer I met climbers that are some of the rockstars of climbing. When I met Gerlinde I was so intimidated. Here is this woman that had climbed 12 8000 meter peaks without oxygen or high altitude porters and she was talking to me! Following these tiny sports is quite rewarding. In general people are very nice and positive. Everyone is trying to take the sport to another level. Fist fights do not break out in a marathon. While I am sad that mainstream media does not cover the greatest sports I am happy that these sports don't have the problems and inability to relate to normal people. Anyone can run a race or go on a hike and in a small way it's like what the professionals do. In fact, it's entirely possible to run into one of these famous people while they are practicing or even walking down the street. I doubt Derek Jeter and I will ever run into each other while out on a run.
So I'll keep my famous people even though most will never be millionaires or get the credit they deserve. Our hope is that the Internet and all of it's information will win more supporters to the little people. There are around a thousand NFL players but only a fraction as many (dozens) professional runners or climbers so it's also easier to follow the players. So go find your famous people.