A few years ago,
That really took me aback because one of the great slurs in sport is exactly that . . . goat. A goat is a player whose blunder cost the game. The goat is adorned with the cuckold's horns.
But when I looked more closely at Lonnie Ali's card, I saw that "GOAT" was an acronym for, well, the absolute opposite of goat. G-O-A-T stood for Greatest Of All Time. And if Mrs. Ali, with a preemptive strike, had declared her husband the GOAT boxer, the term has since migrated into other sports, and these last few weeks have been a veritable GOAT-fest of arguments.
The urge to ascend a superstar to exalted GOAT status is always strong because so many sports fans are what I call "presentists." To these students of GOATdom, the best athletes can only be those performing now, in the present. That's because athletes are bigger than their forebears, and literal records prove everything. Thus, because he holds the current hundred-meter record,
Moreover, fans today pay so much money they want to believe that what they're seeing is the best ever. It's sort of ironic, because in other arts it's the old masters from the past who are the GOATS. Current painters, composers and actors are never so good.
Of course, it's always more difficult choosing a GOAT in team sports because you can't simply be intrinsically the best individual. You must possess complementary team value, as well. The rising babble about
Comparing Federer's record to
It isn't Woods' fault, but as he goes for another U.S. Open championship this week, what he has missed is a real foil, an almost-GOAT to keep challenging him -- as