In sports, we very seldom come across the term ‘G.O.A.T.’ or simply put ‘GOAT’. For those of you who don’t know what it stands for, it means ‘Greatest Of All Time’.
Talk to any sports fan in this world, whether they’ve been following the sport since decades or just a couple of years; every fan has an opinion and a view. Moreover, the criteria for this competition varies from fan to fan and can never be summed up within an inclusive definition.
If you’re a football (soccer) fan, you’ve come across a ‘Messi VS Ronaldo’ conversation which has been going on since a decade. While some compare them mainly in terms of countable statistics on the field with their respective clubs, some tend to include their national records. Some would also include other intangibles like physicality, age, teammates, overall skills, the era, etc etc.
Similarly, one of the most talked about conversations in the NBA is ‘Jordan VS LeBron’. Some talk about Jordan’s 6 rings versus Lebron’s 3; whereas others talk about LeBron’s superior passing and rebounding skills compared to Jordan. Some talk about Pippen’s contribution in Jordan’s success while some talk about the extraordinary genius of Phil Jackson in orchestrating the whole 3-peat.
The conversation goes on and on. If Hamilton keeps his win streak up, we’re going to hear a lot more ‘Hamilton VS Schumacher’, the better F1 driver or ‘Sachin VS Kohli’ the better Indian batsman or ‘Federer VS Nadal VS Djokovic’, the better tennis player.
But here is a question which I personally ask all you sports fans :
‘Do You’ or ‘Should You’ also take into account the impact these athletes have off the court when they’re not armed with their accessories or their heroics outside their jerseys?
We hold our political leaders and people with billions in their bank accounts more accountable than the average human being thanks to their power, privilege and clout. Shouldn’t we hold these world renowned athletes to some of those raised standards too?
Just recently, we came across the COVID19 debacle surrounding the Adria Tour and Novak Djokovic. Hundreds of articles that ranged from ‘The World No.1 and ATP Players Council President putting lives of players in jeopardy’ or that ‘He’d never be the people’s champion’.
You never hear such harsh criticism about Roger Federer, who is widely regarded as the best player to have graced the game of tennis, despite the fact that he may not hold the title for the most grandslams after a year or couple of years. We talk about his gentle, calm and graceful demeanour on and off the court and the bar he has set for every player through his entire career.
Similarly, should we also account for their philanthropic efforts and impact in their communities while they’re on top of their games?
Michael Jordan and the Jordan Brand recently announced to commit $100million dollars over the next 10 years with the goal of “ensuring racial equality, social justice and greater access to education.” However, this comes from Jordan the ex-NBA player. Historically speaking, Michael Jordan the player never mixed his career with other social matters.
On the contrary, Lebron James has been vocal about Social Injustice all through his career and has achieved so much off the court while taking advantage of the spotlight his play puts him in. LeBron’s active career ensures the fact that his endeavours are cast light upon a lot more often and his messages reach far more people than any other player.
In my opinion, GOAT is the player who has the best impact on his sport; who pushes the sport forward; who is a lot more than just a highly skilled player in a jersey and who uses his platform for far better causes than just to entertain, because sports is a lot more than just entertainment.
While a lot of y’all may or may not agree with my definition of GOAT, I ask you again :
Who is your GOAT?