• Help Support The Rugby Forum :

GOAT - The eternal debate

Which Tyler

International
TRF Legend
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Messages
5,919
Reaction score
2,422
Country Flag

England

Club or Nation

Bath

So, who's the second greatest sportsman of all time?

Don Bradman is the greatest, and that's beyond discussion, so who's second.

For the purposes of this, sport can be defined as "game or activity where any improvement in skill/technique will improve performance, and any improvement in physical strength/fitness will improve performance"

So snooker, cards, darts etc are not affected by fitness, Motorsport is, golf is debatable.

Of course, it's a pointless discussion with no right answer, and we'll all bring our own biases. Thes discussions are generally fun, and I generally learn things from these discussions.
 
Last edited:

TRF_Olyy

English Arrogance
Staff member
TRF Legend
TRF Supporter
Joined
Apr 27, 2008
Messages
100,005,342
Reaction score
9,676
Country Flag

England

Club or Nation

Sale

Presumably whoever is the top Decathlete in the world is going to be way up there - real mixture of strength/sprint/endurance events all at a high level and all crammed into a short time period


As much as I'm not fan off Crossfit, their top athletes are insane as well - elite(ish) levels of weightlifting mixed with crazy cardio
Matt Fraser (just retired, won 5 straight crossfit games) was in the USA Olympic weightlifting team before dropping out to focus on Crossfit because he was winning comps/making money, rather than being a broke student athlete
 

Leinster Fan

First XV
TRF Legend
Joined
Nov 5, 2017
Messages
3,433
Reaction score
1,423
Country Flag

Ireland

Club or Nation

Leinster

In terms of Bradman-esque impact on his sport and being ludicrously far ahead of everyone else Gretzky had similar levels of dominance.

In the 21st century I'd say Bolt. Maybe someone will come along and blow his records out of the water but until then hard to top him for me.

In terms of their impact on the modern public consciousness and being really good at what they do Jordan, Messi and Ronaldo are up there in recent times at least but I appreciate that the question is all time.

If the Buccaneers win on Sunday Tom Brady will have won more Superbowls than any individual franchise. I don't think in terms of natural ability he's up there but when you consider other factors like mental toughness, desire to win, consistently coming out on top under pressure and longevity, all of which are pretty crucial to sport players he's on another level, only maybe Ronaldo (portugal) and Michael Jordan seem similar on that front in terms of sheer bloody-mindedness. Brady I think marks out the difference between greatest and best, most would say he's the NFL GOAT but there are other guys in his own era who are probably better than him.

Bit of recency bias to this I'll admit but I'm not 100 years old. Babe Ruth and Pele deserve to be in the conversation too.

In summary I don't know but you can probably make a case for anyone mentioned above if you wanted too.
 
Last edited:

The_Blindside

International
TRF Legend
TRF Supporter
Joined
Oct 17, 2013
Messages
7,572
Reaction score
1,648
Country Flag

Hong Kong

Club or Nation

British Irish Lions

As I don’t like cricket I would dispute Bradman being GOAT across all sports. But I do like a good GOAT debate.
 

big ginger 8

Hall of Fame
TRF Legend
Joined
Jul 4, 2011
Messages
10,097
Reaction score
1,139
Country Flag

Ireland

Club or Nation

Leinster

In the 21st century I'd say Bolt. Maybe someone will come along and blow his records out of the water but until then hard to top him for me.

In terms of Bradman-esque impact on his sport and being ludicrously far ahead of everyone else Gretzky is similar.

Yeah Gretzky stats are mad. Like how for fantasy sports his goals and assists were split into two different players and both still got selected in the first round.

In the NFL Jerry Rice's receiving stats are untouchable but because of positional value won't be considered the GOAT there. Brady has solidified his status in that regard. Since Peyton Manning has retired he's been to four more superbowls. Joe Montana was inducted into the HoF at the same age Brady is now. Part of two all decades teams. HIs list of accolades is insane. After this weekend he'll have played 45 playoff games.

In strongman Zydrunas Savicakas is definitely the modern era GOAT. Competing at the same time as Shaw, Hafthor, Hall, Pudzianowski etc despite not competing at WSM during the IFSA era he's still won WSM four times. Shaw did manage the same in fairness but it's Big Z's record at the Arnold that sets him apart. The next closest has won 3 Arnold Classics, he's won 8.

Also, don't really know enough about hurling but would imagine Shefflin and Ring are up there for impact on their sport?
 

The_Blindside

International
TRF Legend
TRF Supporter
Joined
Oct 17, 2013
Messages
7,572
Reaction score
1,648
Country Flag

Hong Kong

Club or Nation

British Irish Lions

Also define “Greatest.”? Greatest in terms of stats alone or their impact on sport/people/life.
 

The Alpha Bro

Fat Boi
TRF Legend
TRF Supporter
Joined
Dec 3, 2010
Messages
14,595
Reaction score
4,718
Country Flag

South Africa

Club or Nation

Leinster

Tiger Woods has a strong argument to be honest now that he's the "winningest" player in golf and the way he dominated from 97-06 and the era of "Tiger Proofing" courses within that. If it wasn't for the injuries and bad life choices he'd be an absolute cert.

I think Ronaldo or Messi is the answer, they smashed records and are outliers in football, far more impressive than doing that in any other sport.
 

Which Tyler

International
TRF Legend
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Messages
5,919
Reaction score
2,422
Country Flag

England

Club or Nation

Bath

As I don’t like cricket I would dispute Bradman being GOAT across all sports. But I do like a good GOAT debate.
You don't need to like a sport to acknowledge greatness.
I don't like Ice Hockey, but Wayne Gretzky absolutely deserves a place on the list (and probably wins this thread as the second GOAT)

Presumably whoever is the top Decathlete in the world is going to be way up there - real mixture of strength/sprint/endurance events all at a high level and all crammed into a short time period
Ahhh, the standard get-out-of-jail-free answer :)
Which is better, breadth or depth? There's thenodd exception, but best jack of all trades are rarely as good as the specialists, evening/when they specialise their own training.

If you're going that route, then you also have to start looking at guys like CB Fry, Jeff Wilson or Jim Thorpe (a worthy inclusion)

Also define “Greatest.”? Greatest in terms of stats alone or their impact on sport/people/life.

It's subjective, so as you like - but acknowledge who it introduces to the discussion, whether you approve or not.
Equally, the "is it a sport or a game" question is a valid discussion point, and not cut and dried, even with the rules I applied. An example from just above - is Tiger Woods actually a sportsman, or a very skilled games player?
Does an improvement over base-level (Joe Bloggs, the weekend enthusiast) strength / fitness lead directly to improved performance in golf?
If so, then an overweight, middle-aged man like Lee Westwood is considered to be an elite sportsman...
 
Last edited:

Leinster Fan

First XV
TRF Legend
Joined
Nov 5, 2017
Messages
3,433
Reaction score
1,423
Country Flag

Ireland

Club or Nation

Leinster

As I don’t like cricket I would dispute Bradman being GOAT across all sports. But I do like a good GOAT debate.
Leaving out like/dislike of sports I don't think there's anyone else who's so far ahead of everyone else in there sport across all eras as Bradman. The guy is chasms ahead of the rest in a way no one in any other sport really is.
 

Leinster Fan

First XV
TRF Legend
Joined
Nov 5, 2017
Messages
3,433
Reaction score
1,423
Country Flag

Ireland

Club or Nation

Leinster

Also, don't really know enough about hurling but would imagine Shefflin and Ring are up there for impact on their sport?
Don't know about Ring but I'd always have rated Shefflin as the best player on a great team more than the GOAT.
 

TRF_Olyy

English Arrogance
Staff member
TRF Legend
TRF Supporter
Joined
Apr 27, 2008
Messages
100,005,342
Reaction score
9,676
Country Flag

England

Club or Nation

Sale

MMA:

For me it's Georges St Pierre,
Outstanding career, avenged his two losses in dominant fashion, zero controversies - absolute legend.

You could also argue Jon Jones (proven steroid cheat) and Anderson Silva (again: steroids) and Fedor (different era), but for me GSP is the all time greatest fighter ever
 

ncurd

Hall of Fame
TRF Legend
TRF Supporter
Joined
Feb 7, 2015
Messages
10,477
Reaction score
3,380
Country Flag

England

Club or Nation

Bath

Leaving out like/dislike of sports I don't think there's anyone else who's so far ahead of everyone else in there sport across all eras as Bradman. The guy is chasms ahead of the rest in a way no one in any other sport really is.
Someone did some statistical anaylysis of it all once (I've been trying to find it) and you're entirely correct its not even close when measuring that gap. Now you can argue against stats as a factor if you wish but if you accept it its very hard to make the case for anyone else.
 

The Alpha Bro

Fat Boi
TRF Legend
TRF Supporter
Joined
Dec 3, 2010
Messages
14,595
Reaction score
4,718
Country Flag

South Africa

Club or Nation

Leinster

It's subjective, so as you like - but acknowledge who it introduces to the discussion, whether you approve or not.
Equally, the "is it a sport or a game" question is a valid discussion point, and not cut and dried, even with the rules I applied. An example from just above - is Tiger Woods actually a sportsman, or a very skilled games player?
Does an improvement over base-level (Joe Bloggs, the weekend enthusiast) strength / fitness lead directly to improved performance in golf?
If so, then an overweight, middle-aged man like Lee Westwood is considered to be an elite sportsman...
Mans just dismissed everyone in sport for a cricketer who played in war times and posts this! Plenty of fat pro cricketers out there enjoying their days in the sun.

Just as a quick counter to this with my tongue out of my cheek: The average driver swing speed on the PGA tour is 114mph. Very few people can do that swinging a club as hard as they can, let alone accurately at a ball, the swing alone is more impressive athletically than a batter's in cricket. You don't get around a 7000 yard course in 70 shots without being far more powerful, balanced and flexible, admittedly in mostly specific movements, than your average human. There's also more endurance to the game than most give credit for too, the average round being over four hours and requiring elite levels of concentration and precision. You don't have to look much further than the best players in the world to see that you need to be athletic to excel, Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Woods, McIlroy etc... are incredibly powerful guys. Even Westwood and Montgomerie are/were broad shouldered men with a strong base, neither looked after themselves very much and both had a tendency of losing big tournaments in the final holes when Tiger, by far the fittest on tour during his peak, would normally kill off the opposition. The only thing separating golf and cricket in terms of being athleticism is running the 10 metres between stumps or after a rolling ball a handful of times an hour.
 

Not Mike Brown's Sock

First XV
TRF Legend
Joined
Dec 22, 2014
Messages
2,284
Reaction score
719
Country Flag

UK

Club or Nation

Harlequins

Ronaldo, Messi, Brady or Maywether.

Maywether is the most controversial of those haha
 

Which Tyler

International
TRF Legend
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Messages
5,919
Reaction score
2,422
Country Flag

England

Club or Nation

Bath

Personally, I like to short-list things by GOAT candidates by sport (that I'm familiar enough with to venture an opinion)

Rugby: Gareth Edwards the most talented, Lomu the most influential (honourable mentions for Carter, Porta and Alfonso - as this is a rugby forum)
Tennis: Federer the most talented; Nadal and Serena the best athletes who played tennis.
Sprinting: Bolt the most talented, Owens the most influential
Running: Zatopek or Semenya
Gymnastics: Comaneci or Biles
Motorsport: Senna (winning with inferior machinery)
Cricket: Warne or Ponting
Multi-sport: Jim Thorpe or Carl Lewis
American sports: Gretzky > Jordan


Cheeky add for my favourite WTF trivia: Fanny Blankers-Koen (google her!)

Beyond that, and I'm out of my comfort zone (TBH, I'm out of it with the American sports category already)
 
Last edited:

Reiser99

First XV
TRF Legend
Joined
Aug 18, 2015
Messages
4,280
Reaction score
1,575
Country Flag

England

Club or Nation

Leicester

On Usain Bolt, yes he is possibly the greatest sprinter ever, but it's debatable if he's the greatest athlete. Basically my issue is that sprinting gets a lot of the glory in athletics and actually other events have athletes who have been just as dominant, but don't get the publicity. Again, not saying bolt isn't fantastic, but for me the bias towards sprinting in athletics gives him a bit of an unfair advantage when you look solely at athletic ability.
 

Leinster Fan

First XV
TRF Legend
Joined
Nov 5, 2017
Messages
3,433
Reaction score
1,423
Country Flag

Ireland

Club or Nation

Leinster

On Usain Bolt, yes he is possibly the greatest sprinter ever, but it's debatable if he's the greatest athlete. Basically my issue is that sprinting gets a lot of the glory in athletics and actually other events have athletes who have been just as dominant, but don't get the publicity. Again, not saying bolt isn't fantastic, but for me the bias towards sprinting in athletics gives him a bit of an unfair advantage when you look solely at athletic ability.
This is fair enough. I've always followed sprinting much more than anything else in athletics so Bolt would stand out for me.

Another name who hasn't been mentioned so far is Phelps. Medals and medals and medals. Don't know much about swimming so maybe someone else can comment on that but he did seem absurdly dominant for a while.
 

RedruthRFC

First XV
TRF Legend
Joined
Nov 29, 2011
Messages
2,138
Reaction score
308
Country Flag

England

Club or Nation

England

Leaving out like/dislike of sports I don't think there's anyone else who's so far ahead of everyone else in there sport across all eras as Bradman. The guy is chasms ahead of the rest in a way no one in any other sport really is.
Wilt Chamberlain is worth looking at. His performance dropped off with age, so his career stats don't look that crazy, but in his early career, I'd have thought that his stats were ahead of his peers by Bradmanesque levels, certainly in the season where he averaged 50 and 25.
 

The_Blindside

International
TRF Legend
TRF Supporter
Joined
Oct 17, 2013
Messages
7,572
Reaction score
1,648
Country Flag

Hong Kong

Club or Nation

British Irish Lions

Leaving out like/dislike of sports I don't think there's anyone else who's so far ahead of everyone else in there sport across all eras as Bradman. The guy is chasms ahead of the rest in a way no one in any other sport really is.
I think that‘s why his stats don’t mean much to me. But that’s my subject POV rather than looking at it objectively.

It gets to a point with any GOAT contender when their stats are so off the scale compared to their peers that the
question arises just how good were their peers?

Bolt is a bit different as he was also against the clock.

Then there’s the whole PEDs issue and how previous so called GOATs may have gotten away with it. Flo Jo being one.
 

Leinster Fan

First XV
TRF Legend
Joined
Nov 5, 2017
Messages
3,433
Reaction score
1,423
Country Flag

Ireland

Club or Nation

Leinster

I think that‘s why his stats don’t mean much to me. But that’s my subject POV rather than looking at it objectively.
It
It gets to a point with any GOAT contender when their stats are so off the scale compared to their peers that the
question arises just how good were their peers?

Bolt is a bit different as he was also against the clock.

Then there’s the whole PEDs issue and how previous so called GOATs may have gotten away with it. Flo Jo being one.
Well the point with Bradman isn't that he's better than his peers, he's better than everyone across all eras by an absurd degree. I don't think it's fair to being up the 'was everyone else any good' question here more than any other sport. It's not that cricket hasn't had other great players, if we just look at it and pretend Bradman doesn't exist for a second someone would probably be making an argument for Sachin Tendulkar in this thread. Or maybe Steve Smith if we limit it to tests. Those guys were undeniably brilliant but they're blown out of the water by Bradman.
 

Latest posts

Top