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GOAT - The eternal debate

Reiser99

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Mentioned above, IMO Jim Thorpe is more impressive. Eric Liddell another famous example from that era.
Modern era give us the likes of Jeff Wilson, Lauryn Williams, Becca Romero, Alex Zanardi etc I think there have been a few lady dual internationals between rugby, cricket and football from Aus and NZ. A few americans have done 2 of Baseball, basketball and American football too.

Fry is definitely a worthy nomination though - I've certainly done so before.
IIRC, he nominated Max Woosnam as his superior (who, like Thorpe, I had to look up after nominating Fry, and getting replies like this)
Not taking away from those around the 1800s/early 1900s as it was still impressive, but sport was nowhere near as high level and it would have been easier to switch sports and compete well, just be being generally athletic. Definitely more impressive to do it now when players train pretty much their whole adult life and some of their youth.
 

Which Tyler

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Not taking away from those around the 1800s/early 1900s as it was still impressive, but sport was nowhere near as high level and it would have been easier to switch sports and compete well, just be being generally athletic. Definitely more impressive to do it now when players train pretty much their whole adult life and some of their youth.
I'd just editted to say something similar.
Elite sport is professional, and places too high a demand on time (and specialisation) to maintain that standard in multiple sports.

You simply can't do 2 9-month seasons in 1 callendar year (exception being multi-event & specialising in one of those)
 

RedruthRFC

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I can't think of anyone who has been good enough in multiple sports for this to bring them close to GOAT status. CB Fry's CV was amazing, but he excelled within a very limited pool of people (mostly called Rupert) who went to the right schools.

Greatest all round sportsman as is whole different thread to me. Deion Sanders the standout candidate I can think of at the moment, having played modern era NFL and MLB concurrently for more than 10 years, becoming a fall of famer in the former.
 

Al Bangor

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I'm old enough to remember when being called a goat was considered a bad thing. That was before acronyms took over our language. :p

Tongue Goat GIF
 

The_Blindside

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So list of GOATs from across the main sports and whittle down to one?

Football: Between Pele, Maradona, Messi and C. Ronaldo. Would personally add Zidane as well who pretty won all the main prizes as a player.

Cricket - Bradman based on his stats.

Rugby U: McCaw. Although harsh on old amateurs like Sir GE and team based sports very hard to just choose one.

Athletics(track and field) : Jesse Owens, Bolt....

Swimming: Phelps.

Boxing: Ali or SRR.

Tennis: Federer, Nadal, Laver, Djokovic

Motor racing: Schumacher, Senna, Clark, Fangio, Hamilton.

Basketball: Jordon, James, Chamberlain, KAJ.

Main sports I know about and mentioned so far.
 

The_Blindside

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So list of GOATs from across the main sports and whittle down to one?

Football: Between Pele, Maradona, Messi and C. Ronaldo. Would personally add Zidane as well who pretty won all the main prizes as a player.

Cricket - Bradman based on his stats.

Rugby U: McCaw. Although harsh on old amateurs like Sir GE and team based sports very hard to just choose one.

Athletics(track and field) : Jesse Owens, Bolt....

Swimming: Phelps.

Boxing: Ali or SRR.

Tennis: Federer, Nadal, Laver, Djokovic

Motor racing: Schumacher, Senna, Clark, Fangio, Hamilton.

Basketball: Jordon, James, Chamberlain, KAJ.

Main sports I know about and mentioned so far.
Should also say my post is also very sexist as it excludes women from the GOAT debate.

Main sport I am interested in outside rugby and Football is Tennis, which I think has created the most controversy when it comes to the battle of the sexes.

Serena of course the last 2 decades. Overcoming the racism. But also her own on court outbursts. One short of Margaret Court’s record. Could still equal it.

Martina Navratilova. Amazing singles and doubles player.

Billy Jean King.

My personal favorite- Steffi Graf.
 

Yulia

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Football: Between Pele, Maradona, Messi and C. Ronaldo. Would personally add Zidane as well who pretty won all the main prizes as a player.
I adore Zidane! So, Zidane or Messi for me (can't stand Ronaldo).
MMA: Fedor Emelianenko.
Rugby (U) : I don't know.. maybe Dan Carter. Difficult to say as I don't know rugby that good (not yet).
 

Reiser99

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Should also say my post is also very sexist as it excludes women from the GOAT debate.

Main sport I am interested in outside rugby and Football is Tennis, which I think has created the most controversy when it comes to the battle of the sexes.

Serena of course the last 2 decades. Overcoming the racism. But also her own on court outbursts. One short of Margaret Court’s record. Could still equal it.

Martina Navratilova. Amazing singles and doubles player.

Billy Jean King.

My personal favorite- Steffi Graf.
Part of the problem with women is that by nature men on average are physically stronger. Therefore logically (dubious) the most athletic man is going to be better than the most athletic woman. This means you have to then consider their impact against their peers and we're back to essentially the same issue as people from different eras.
 

The_Blindside

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Part of the problem with women is that by nature men on average are physically stronger. Therefore logically (dubious) the most athletic man is going to be better than the most athletic woman. This means you have to then consider their impact against their peers and we're back to essentially the same issue as people from different eras.
Absolutely, but part of the "GOAT" debate is the impact a particular sports person has had. Putting aside "strength" aspect of the GOAT debate, another important aspect is whether the GOAT has transcended their sport/field. Women making up Half or more than half can't and shouldn't be discounted from the debate.

On your last point The late Great Boxing writer/historian Burt Sugar said of comparing boxers from different eras if like comparing apples and oranges. He actually put Joe Louis as his number 1 heavyweight ahead of Ali, not because in an imaginary fight Louis would beat Ali or visa versa, but rather each against their peers in their own eras.
 

Old Hooker

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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.

Yep and the medal count is inflated by being able to double up in 100 / 200 and do relays. Try Jan Zelezny in the javelin. Triple Olympic champion (92, 96 and 00) and world record holder since 1993. 5 of the longest 6 throws in history (all 5 until last year), topped world rankings in 7 seasons and only man to throw over 90m 5 times in a single meeting. Chuck in a couple of world championships and an Olympic silver in 88 and it’s an extraordinary record in an event that is notoriously unpredictable and regularly breaks competitors. Very athletic and much smaller than most of the monsters who traditionally dominated the event. Virtually impossible to compare athletics disciplines but there’s been no-one better. For the future pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis is an unbelievable talent - only 21 and already world record holder indoors and out with plenty of power to add.

From cycling Eddy Merckx was in a stratosphere of his own and should be in any GOAT conversation....

Most Grand Tour wins - 11 including 5 Tours de France. Winner of most monuments (the 5 classic one day races) - 19. Broke the world hour record and won at least 7 of the premier, non Grand Tour, stage races including 3 Paris-Nice. No-one else has won more than 11 monuments and although Hinault won 10 GT he only landed 5 monuments. With riders increasingly specialising, his record will never be approached.
 

Don't Skip Leg Day

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Ben Youngs or Owen Farrell as the great of all time undeserved caps?
 

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Easiest to get caught up in the moment but Brady has to be up there for best ever across any sport.
 

RedruthRFC

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Easiest to get caught up in the moment but Brady has to be up there for best ever across any sport.
American sports seem to place a too much emphasis (IMO) on team achievements when assessing individual greatness. Given that Brady accepted a salary under the market rate in order to play with better players it seems like bad way of assessing how good he was. Similarly they love all time lists, which presumably he's going to dominate. I'm not trying to say that he doesn't deserve credit for his longevity or wins, just not the amount that the NFL community seem to give him. To be fair, I don't know anywhere near enough about the NFL to argue the toss about him one way or the other, but the fact that his GOAT status within the NFL or even his GOAT quarterback status is nowhere near unanimous suggests to me that his level of dominance isn't great enough to be considered the second GOAT across all sports.

I have the same trouble with the respect that Bill Russell gets in basketball for his eleven rings is a stacked Celtics team, despite him never averaging 20 points in an offence friendly era and "only" winning 5 rebounding crowns.
 

Leinster Fan

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American sports seem to place a too much emphasis (IMO) on team achievements when assessing individual greatness. Given that Brady accepted a salary under the market rate in order to play with better players it seems like bad way of assessing how good he was. Similarly they love all time lists, which presumably he's going to dominate. I'm not trying to say that he doesn't deserve credit for his longevity or wins, just not the amount that the NFL community seem to give him. To be fair, I don't know anywhere near enough about the NFL to argue the toss about him one way or the other, but the fact that his GOAT status within the NFL or even his GOAT quarterback status is nowhere near unanimous suggests to me that his level of dominance isn't great enough to be considered the second GOAT across all sports.

I have the same trouble with the respect that Bill Russell gets in basketball for his eleven rings is a stacked Celtics team, despite him never averaging 20 points in an offence friendly era and "only" winning 5 rebounding crowns.
To be fair this is true for all sport. Messi's failure to win a major international tournament is a stain on legacy, fairly or unfairly (not saying I agree), and still prompts unfavourable comparisons to Maradona despite being having about 15 world class seasons compared to 3 or 4. If anything I do understand the focus on the individual more understandable in America, as to be fair the quarterback is by far the most important player in an NFL team (especially in this era) in a way that I can't think applies to any other sport, and basketball is a 5 a side sport where it is possible for one player score as much as the rest of his team on a given day (not common, but still). Focusing on the individual is a media driven thing, but both leagues do lend themselves to superstar culture and team achievements are always going to count for more because of that. At the end of the day, sport is about winning.

Older players signing team contracts to give themselves the best shot at winning while they're still playing is a fairly common and well established practice, and to be fair no one was ever going to break the bank for a 43 year old, no matter who he is. Can't imagine money is a priority for him anyway, he's presumably pretty well set after 20 years as the face of America's biggest sport, and his wife is even richer than he is afaik.

Again, I'm not sold on the "not unanimous best" either. You'll find detractors but you won't find many coalescing behind any one individual, you'll find a few arguing for Montana, a few arguing for Peyton Manning, maybe the odd Marino fan but there's no concensus alternative. A lot of the arguments thrown in face are dead in the water after last weekend too. At the end of the day the man has won the whole thing more than any individual franchise, and there's no real arguing with that legacy. To be honest, a lot of the complaints come from the fact that half the league's fanbases have a personal reason to hate him at this point (I'm a Rams fan so I'd know on this one).

I will say that Brady is almost certainly the coolest sportperson under pressure I've seen in any sport, and by a distance. A lot of other things went right, but there's no universe where the Patriots have the same degree of success with someone else there. Going somewhere else and winning gives his legacy a boost it didn't need but does put him in an echelon above every one else, at least for me (and most other people). Similarly, his commitment to winning, and ability to inspire the same quality in others, is something I haven't seen anywhere else. His level of dominance might not necessarily seem impressive at first glance, but the NFL is an incredibly volatile league that has achieved something pretty close to parity. Most great teams last for 3 or 4 years (6 or 7 at a push) do well to win more than one title (and there are many who didn't win any, Saints team of the last few years the best recent example). Keeping a team at the top for 20 years is outside any reasonable expectation. Most great players can count themselves lucky to end up with one title. Going back to the Saints, Drew Brees is likely retiring this year having only ever gone to one superbowl, and Peyton Manning only won his second in his last season (and that was because of his defence).

This turned out to be a lot longer than intended but oh well.
 

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In cricket Bradman’s stats are incredible and his test average won’t be beaten, but also very much of his time. Outstanding, but probably wouldn’t be quite so far ahead of the pack in different eras.

If you judge GOAT, by longevity, achievement and impact then who’s going top Sachin Tendulkar in any sport?

24 year career playing international cricket is incredible, especially 2 very different variations in tests and one day internationals. Very stylish and regarded as an absolute deity in India.

Some of his records:

Most test matches - 200 (next best 168)

Most test runs - 15,921 (next best 13,378)

Most test centuries - 51 (next best 45)

Most test 50s - 68 (next best 66)

Most ODI appearances - 463 (next best 448)

Most ODI runs - 18,426 (next best 14,234)

Most ODI centuries - 41 (next best 39)

Most ODI 50s - 96 (next best 93).

For multi sports also check out Babe Didrikson from the 30s. In the 1932 Olympics she won gold in the 80m hurdles and javelin and silver in the high jump. Then turned to golf and won 10 LGPA majors. Not a lot of competition around at that time granted, but she’s an interesting story.

And I thought it was an immutable fact that Gareth Edwards is the best rugby player ever?
 

Reiser99

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In cricket Bradman’s stats are incredible and his test average won’t be beaten, but also very much of his time. Outstanding, but probably wouldn’t be quite so far ahead of the pack in different eras.

If you judge GOAT, by longevity, achievement and impact then who’s going top Sachin Tendulkar in any sport?

24 year career playing international cricket is incredible, especially 2 very different variations in tests and one day internationals. Very stylish and regarded as an absolute deity in India.

Some of his records:

Most test matches - 200 (next best 168)

Most test runs - 15,921 (next best 13,378)

Most test centuries - 51 (next best 45)

Most test 50s - 68 (next best 66)

Most ODI appearances - 463 (next best 448)

Most ODI runs - 18,426 (next best 14,234)

Most ODI centuries - 41 (next best 39)

Most ODI 50s - 96 (next best 93).

For multi sports also check out Babe Didrikson from the 30s. In the 1932 Olympics she won gold in the 80m hurdles and javelin and silver in the high jump. Then turned to golf and won 10 LGPA majors. Not a lot of competition around at that time granted, but she’s an interesting story.

And I thought it was an immutable fact that Gareth Edwards is the best rugby player ever?
It's an interesting question because you could have someone with amazing stats who has only played 3 games. It's why most stats usually have a minimum number of games. I think in cricket it might be 10. However, 10 matches compared with 200 matches (and I'm assuming that's matches not tests, so tests would be even higher and innings further still) is like chalk and cheese. Anyone can have a good start to their career, but to still be playing at a high level after 200 is an incredible feat. There was an interesting stat about Jimmy Anderson recently and how he's actually been a better bowler since he turned 30 and would beat most England bowlers in the record lists just since turning 30.

If I was to answer this question seriously, I don't think you can because there are far too many variable factors. It's hard enough even within a generation. For example many people might say BOD was the best rugby player of his time, but then you also have Carter and McCaw etc... How would people view BOD if he'd been part of an AB's world cup winning side? Or does the fact that he was so impressive in an Irish side that was so inconsistent that he should be better than 2 players who had a great team around them.

Can even do a proper poll as one's in Britain for almost any sport tend to be skewed towards British players and they definitely get the nod over others. Yes there might be your Tendulkars or your Carters, but hell I imagine before recently Farrell would have been in the conversation for most people and I definitely don't think he should have been in the discussion, even before his current form.

Simply there are far too many varying factors and even then people have different biases on what is more important.
 

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