G.O.A.T: It Doesn't Exist

Michael LanichCorrespondent IApril 24, 2009

KEY BISCAYNE, FL - MARCH 31:  Roger Federer of Switzerland looks on against Taylor Dent during day nine of the Sony Ericsson Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 31, 2009 in Key Biscayne, Florida.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

The G.O.A.T.  It's a term used in almost every sport.  Who is the greatest?  It's also a question that can make even the most even tempered person adopt the persona of a fanatical fan as he debates, wages war, and articulates why his player deserves to be at the top of the mountain.

It's a question sadly, that can never truly be given an answer that everyone can agree upon.  Why you ask?

Because there are simply way too many reasons as to why a legend from one era, cannot be compared to another, unless you can somehow go back in time and let the men do battle in their primes.

Suffice to say, racket technology, competition, fitness, and style of play are just some of the reasons that a consensus will never be given on this most talked about subject.

Today's players are stronger, quicker, more agile, and are simply built for a far different kind of tennis than those 25 years ago.  Just like in another 25 years, players will make today's look weak by comparison.

When people say that Roger Federer would crush Roy Emerson, they are probably right.  But in 15 years, some young hotshot will cruise to 14-15 slams and people will make the exact same argument against Federer when they say "Alex would crush Federer on the court"  and maybe they would be right, but it would also be unfair to make the comparison.

To make a comparison.  If you love American Football, then you will have heard the name Jim Brown.  He was a running back in the 50's and early 60's and he dominated the sport so much, that players didn't even want to go on the field to play against him and some, even refused.  Now if Jim Brown were to play today, his results arguably would not be nearly as good, but that doesn't mean his greatness should be questioned.  Different decades.  Different times.

To say that someone is the "greatest-of-all-time" in ANY sport is ridiculous.  Maybe the "greatest-until-now" would be a better title, but even so, it's still a bad concept.

The best that we can hope for is the "greatest-of-the-era" or "greatest-of-the-decade", because that is the best we can really do.

The 2000's belong to Federer.  The 90's are Pete Sampras's domain.  The 80's would be Ivan Lendl's.  Bjorn Bjorg certainly for the 70's, and probably Emerson for the 60's.  Right away there are plenty of players left off of the list of legends, but those would be the guys who dominated their sport the most in their particular time.

We as a society, have a need for creating lists and creating a pecking order in all things and it's an oudated concept, especially in sports.  There always needs to be a top five, a top ten etc.  We spend so much time trying to figure out who is the best in a sport, when we should be savoring what they are showing us instead. 

Do I care if Tiger Woods is the "greatest" in golf?  Not really.  Somehow, I doubt he does either.  I'm just glad I can say that I saw him dominate his sport and create some truly great moments in the game's history.

Sorry folks, Federer is not the "G.O.A.T" and neither is Sampras, or Bjorg or anyone.

Let's just appreciate the players of the past and present for what they have done for the game and not concentrate so much on where they place in the "greatest" discussion.