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G.O.A.T? Don't Believe the Hype

Dave Randall

Posted on January 21, 2018 23:05

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How do you compare a current sports star with stars of the past? YOU DON'T!

Venues that beg your attention, your clicks, your devotion are too vast in number to count accurately. The idea is to work you, the viewer, the listener, the reader, into a frothing frenzy about something. In sports, raving about heroes does the trick. The term "Greatest of All-Time" has been turned into the acronym, GOAT. Sportstalk hosts and sportswriters use this term for whomever currently excels at their sport. The thinking, here, is that the younger, target demographic doesn't care about anything that happened before the beginning of their consciousness. 

Will someone please tell me when this turnaround in curiosity cemented itself? I was a 6-year-old discovering what happened on a Big League diamond for the first time, and got a book called "The Story of Baseball" as a gift. I loved the stories and the pictures; the funny looking gloves Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig wore, the baggy uniforms. The impact of Jackie Robinson and what it meant to my father and grandfather. Great tales of World Series past. It was a kick to know this kind of greatness existed prior to the current greats (Rod Carew and Tom Seaver were rookies, that year). The game, though still all about a bat, a ball, strikeouts, walks, hits and homers, had changed, but greatness was the same.

The same for football. Bart Starr and Johnny Unitas were nearing the end of their careers. Unlike baseball, rules would frequently evolve, as would defenses, but there is no disputing the greatness of these two quarterbacks, these field leaders of men.

Sunday afternoon, Tom Brady, bandaged hand and all, again led the New England Patriots to a berth in the Super Bowl. Sportscasters, over the next two weeks, will bow, stoop, pay homage, and prostrate themselves before the God they have created. And he's got a hell of a record ... which should be judged when he retires. To call a man the greatest of all-time before he's done is not fair to Unitas, Joe Montana and others who played under different rules, in a different day, and whose greatness must be measured in more than statistics. Tom Brady is the greatest of his time. Not all-time ... not yet.

It's true that over 90 years ago, sportswriters anointed Babe Ruth the Sultan of Swat, and vaulted him to an altitude never before attained by a living athlete. Well, the Babe did things that had never been done before. He, more than any other player in the annals of sport, might well deserve the title of GOAT. How would he swing against a cut-fastball in a day game after a night game, like today's players? We'll never know.

In The Boys of Summer, writer Roger Kahn quoted his father as saying, "Comparisons are nefarious." I agree. These athletes, Brady or The Babe, must be judged in their own time, not all-time. Regale in the facts, rejoice in the day, but STOP the hype.

Dave Randall

Posted on January 21, 2018 23:05

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Source: Forbes

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