Broadly philosophical sports thread part 1 - Greatness


We have some pretty good rolling threads to talk about various sports. But what about the broader picture stuff that can be a crossover between them all? I am going to run some threads that take a more cerebral look at sport in the widest sense.

I’m sure plenty of people will talk about football but do please try and refer to other sports as much as possible - even if you don’t think anyone else here knows anything about them. Maybe we’ll manage to learn something.

I haven’t really worked out how to approach these threads in a way that will generate conversation. For this first one I’m going to try throwing out a load of ideas that could all be subthreads. In future I may feel the need to take things a bit slower, but we’ll learn as we go.

Anywoo, without further delays a well trodden topic for many sports fans and often an interesting way in to learning about new sports…

TOPIC 1 - Greatness and GOATs

Who is the GOAT in your sports? Is it universally agreed? How about a collection of GOATs? How about in team sports where there’s different roles? How about management, coaching or even technical and scientific roles?

What does ‘greatest’ even mean? Can you be the GOAT if you’re simply a winning machine churning out results or is there a requirement for a certain level of charisma, or maybe to have appeal outside of the sporting niche you’re in?

Can you be the GOAT if you didn’t win that much? How about if you famously lost, does that remove some of your status?

How about injuries and career length? Can you be in the GOAT conversation if your peak was only a few years?

How about teams, is there a lineup that you consider the greatest? How long did the lineup last for?

How about measuring greatness across the history of a sport rather than against their peers? Is it possible?

How about being the greatest by crossing over to other sports?


1 Like

Certified GOATs in my eyes;

Usain Bolt
Armand Duplantis

I reckon it’s easier in individual sports with a clear measurable outcome like world records - the two I chose clearly smashing new barriers and being way ahead of the also-rans

Team sports is way harder as there are so many more contributing factors & it’s always hard to separate the individual performance from the rest of the team’s performance. Plus there is the element of supporting a particular team and/or admiring a particular player or teams style so yeah … whether it be cycling, football or formula one it’s way too complex to lay all the plaudits at an individual’s feet

Would also add that to my mind Muhammed Ali is the undisputed GOAT heavyweight champ but that has to do with so much more than just boxing or physical prowess, the social and political meaning in his career has him easily transcending sport

I find GOAT discussions really tiresome, tbh.


daniel bryan wrestling GIF by WWE


Not sure if you’re backing up my admiration of the guy by posting that he has the 9 fastest legal times in history or subtly suggesting that he simply didn’t get caught?

much like lots of cyclists, he’s looking pretty dodgy - even if he didn’t get caught imo

An hour in and Aggpass hasn’t posted a link to Dean Ashton’s Wiki page. Worried about him.

This post paid for by PROF$.


You don’t think that Bolt’s stride length and the fact that he was running 100m in 40 or 41 strides compared to most other competitors 44-48 strides is the main factor? Or do think it’s just doping?

like Armstrong or whoever, if they’re all at it, he was still really quick, an ambassador for the sport and so on… I just find it hard to celebrate.

see also mo farah, most of the tennis guys etc.

More a single achievement, and caveat it was high altitude etc but I still think it’s incredible that the second longest long jump in history happened almost 60 years ago.

What’s your views on Duplantis then?

sure great at pole vaulting… :person_shrugging: I know nothing about the sport and find it hard to get excited about - not something open to everyone is it :confused:
Has anyone on the boards pole vaulted before…?

1 Like

I think they can be really fun and interesting, for as long as people stay respectful and understand that it’s entirely subjective. That’s usually minutes, unfortunately. What it does do is feed into the binary discourse that is in more or less every sport - everyone is either the GOAT or shit. Nothing in between. That just makes me check out immediately.

To answer the OP, the pretty much universally accepted GOATs in American Football are Tom Brady (Quarterback) and Bill Belichick (coach) who are forever linked by winning six superbowls together over 18 years with the New England Patriots. What’s interesting is what happened when they split and what it means for their legacy. Brady went on to immediately win another with a different team, while Belichick stuck with the Patriots and his teams got progressively worse until he was unceremoniously “mutually agreed to move on”. It’s too much to say his legacy is tarnished, but he certainly feel well behind in the argument about who was more responsible for the success.

Both are asonishingly driven, self-centred, ambitious and would step over their own mothers for another victory. I often think you are quite likely to be a fairly deficient human being in other areas to become the absolute best at any sport.

1 Like

I just meant in terms of the elite sportsperson being a natural doping question mark

Can recommend the 2022 doc ‘Born to Fly’ if you’re interested in seeing why Duplantis is a total freak and one-off in the sport

I tried it for a while back when I was 15/16. Way too late to start something so technical and so physically punishing. Duplantis was pole vaulting every day from the age of 4 pretty much

1 Like

will check the doc out cheers. Other than the big occasions its not something I’ve come across (probably because Team GB aren’t very good at it?)

as I have no knowledge of it - I dont know about doping to it tbh so happy to take yoru word for it

1 Like

I was not the best because I killed quickly. I was the best because the crowd loved me.

‐Oliver Reed (Proximo (Gladiator (Ridley Scott (2000))))

Don’t really follow athletics as such but there’s this Czech long distance runner called Emile Zatopek who’s story I find really amazing, especially his performances at the 1952 Olympics:

Yes, he decided on the morning of the marathon to do it for a laugh, having never run one before, and he broke the Olympic record. WTF!


Props to Jonathan Edwards for still holding the triple-jump world record


I remember being at Primavera on the day of the Copa del Rey final where Messi scored a proper Messi goal against Athletic, and it’s one of the most recent times where I’ve had that sense of wonder about how amazing sport (and football) can be, just pure genius stuff.

Like, much as it’s fun to watch compilation videos or whatever, I just feel so privileged to have seen a goal like this ‘live’, even if it was on a big screen.