Tom Brady or Joe Montana?
Michael Jordan or Lebron James? Or how about Kareem Abdul Jabbar?
Serena Williams or Martina Navratilova?
Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus?
Wayne Gretzky or…? Okay, that one is pretty much a no-brainer. There’s nobody even close!
The term GOAT creates all kinds of ideas for people. Mostly, it creates discussions and conflicting opinions, sometimes even heated arguments.
If you don’t know the term, it is an acronym for Greatest Of All Time.
Ironically, I never used the term that way until about 10 or 15 years ago. For most of my life, a goat was someone who had screwed up and cost their team in some way. The statement, “You’re either a hero or a goat” was how I heard it used first.
But somewhere along the line, I started hearing the term meaning the greatest player ever or the greatest at whatever field one was talking about. And that is what it has meant ever since.
The Best Ever
The names listed above are some of those we often hear in the arguments. In the various sports you are involved in, you probably hear the same arguments.
People are enamored with who is the best to ever play the game, and many of them are often ready to argue their side with anyone who dares to think differently than they do.
I get it.
We love the best there is.
Take Chicago-style deep dish pizza, for instance. It’s by far the best type of pizza ever, and much like Gretzky, it’s not even close. In fact, there is really no arguing it.
And with a statement like that, all the New Yorkers out there are coming unglued, as they just know that New York pizza is the GOAT. Try as they might, they will argue that point until they’re blue in the face.
Sorry to disappoint you New Yorkers, but you’re wrong. You’ll just have to continue to look like Blue from Blue’s Clues for the rest of your lives.
And off we go into a twenty-minute argument as to why Chicago pizza is better than New York pizza and vice versa, without ever coming to a definitive answer one way or the other.
Why can’t we love both?
Why can’t we just recognize the greatness of both types of pizza or even the greatness of the many different types of pizza out there or the greatness of many different types of whatever it is that we’re arguing about?
It’s the competitive nature of people and of our society.
For so many people, there just simply has to be a BEST, a KING, a #1.
Focused on the Wrong Things
However, when it comes to team sports, like basketball, football, soccer, hockey, and others, I have a problem with the concept of the GOAT.
I think the acronym should mean something else.
We need to stop talking about the greatest player of all time and focus on what matters most—The TEAM.
Therefore, I am proposing that from now on the term GOAT should stand for one of or both of two things:
Greatest Of All Teammates & Greatest of All Teams
You tennis players, golfers, swimmers, track athletes, wrestlers, and others in sports where you compete by yourself can have your greatest individual performers of all time.
But for those of us who compete in an arena with teammates having to play together, the Greatest Of All Time argument about individually skilled players is ultimately a moot point.
How many touchdown passes did Brady or Montana throw to themselves?
How many times did Michael or Lebron beat the other team by themselves?
Now there have been games when superstar players have taken over and done incredible things to lead their team to victory.
But, again, notice who was victorious—The TEAM.
I don’t want to downplay the importance of highly skilled individual athletes in a team’s success. Those of us in the team sport world know that it takes really good players to make a team successful on the scoreboard.
However, we also know that all the talent in the world won’t matter to the team’s success if we can’t get them to work hard, play together, be healthy, stay eligible, and help ALL of the team members be successful.
Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, is one of the most talented individual players to ever play football. Five years after he retires, he will be a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee.
But this incredibly gifted quarterback, who some feel is actually better than Tom Brady, has only won one Super Bowl, the ultimate prize in his sport, over his 16-year career. Tom Brady has won seven Super Bowls in his 21 years in the league.
While Rodgers may be more talented than Brady, he is certainly not anywhere near as successful when it comes to his team. And the last I checked, football is a team sport with everyone trying to bring success to the team.
At least, that’s what everyone is supposed to be trying to do.
Also, as I write this, Aaron Rodgers is still in quarantine due to contracting Covid-19. He cost his team a victory last weekend, and possibly a #1 or #2 seed and home field advantage in the playoffs, due to not putting the needs of his team ahead of his own. His incredible individual talent did nothing for his team last week because he couldn’t play. This week he can’t practice with his team, so he is hurting his team’s chances for success this coming weekend, too.
This is not a statement about someone choosing to get vaccinated or not. It’s about Aaron Rodgers choosing the course of action he felt was best for him, but then not choosing the best courses of action for his team once he made his choice. And then, his team paid a price for it.
Who Are Your GOATs?
We all know individually talented players, and many of us coach individually talented players. Some of them put the needs of the team ahead of their own, and some put the needs of themselves ahead of their teams.
Which ones are most valuable to you?
Which ones would you rather have on your team?
Yes, I want strong, individually talented players on my teams. Absolutely! We need them to succeed.
But I want strong, individually talented players who are there to help our team become the best it is capable of becoming.
I want GOATs—Greatest Of All Teammates because they can help us become a GOAT—Greatest Of All Teams.
Think back to the greatest teams you have ever coached.
Were they filled with the type of GOATs the world is focused on—great individual performers who have a lot of skill and perform incredibly amazing plays?
Or were they filled with the type of GOATs I’m talking about—great teammates who may or may not have the greatest skill, but are always working to be their best to help the team be its best.
Hopefully, you have players who are a combination of the two because when you do, you have The Ultimate GOATs—highly skilled players with outstanding talent who do all they can to make the team the best it can be.
And when you have some of those players mixed together with players who fall into the Greatest Of All Teammates category, you have the chance for a truly great team–possibly a GOAT team.
So the next time you hear someone talking about The GOAT, consider what they mean, and educate them on what it should really mean.
Then get ready–
The arguments are about to begin!