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ArticleLiving Well

An ode to the truly great.

Writer Matt Dunn on why the 'GOAT' is clear-cut, but not limited to just one individual.

Sep 15, 2022

Images: Karl Magnuson

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As far as I’m concerned, women deserve the collective title of ‘Greatest of All Time’.

Bloke versus GOAT. There’s no contest. Women win hands down.

The GOAT is a subject that is given endless analysis in our household. In fact, if you believed my kids you’d think there was a veritable GOAT plague, though the title is only ever applied to one at a time.

Keen basketball fans, my two boys debated who deserved the GOAT moniker endlessly. LeBron or Jordan? AFL-wise, we all lean toward Marcus Bontempelli claiming the title of footy GOAT (we’re Bulldogs tragics too, which probably does colour our thinking).

" might be part of that tribe or, like me, travelling along with them. Whatever your gender, get aboard the GOAT boat and channel some female energy."

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Recently my youngest son played in a tennis final against another local lad who he’d named ‘The GOAT’. In reality, he was simply a good average player whose greatest achievement will probably be winning a South Gippsland inter-club senior final. Australian Open? Not a chance. Wimbledon? Nup. GOAT? It was almost offensive to suggest so. Pimply and awkwardly teenaged, he was as far from a GOAT as a cocker spaniel. He did have a nice serve though, although my son’s groundstrokes were better and he only lost narrowly.

I think my son gave the boy GOAT-like status because he wanted to claim the mantle as his own. Kill the GOAT and you are the GOAT.

I took this thinking to its logical conclusion, shouting out: “Slay the goat, Finn!” The comment was met with odd looks from other parents and a firm “Shut-up, Dad!” from my embarrassed 15-year-old.

My jokes and my encouragement often fall flat, but there’s no more demented creature than the passionate sports-loving parent. I mean, you don’t really care if your kid wins or not (except when they lose).

Last weekend I watched my eldest daughter play footy. She spends more time on her knees than soaring through the air, taking the dour defender schtick to a whole new level. Hard at the ball, but never hard at her opponent.

As a general concept, female energy is very different to male energy. Put women on a footy field and there is so much goodwill it’s almost impossible to describe. Late in the last quarter, my daughter’s direct opponent had a cramp. The ball was forgotten, as teammates and opponents alike gathered around the stricken forward. My daughter slipped an arm around her shoulder. “I know. I hate cramps,” I heard her sympathise, as the girl grimaced.

Men in the same situation would have pushed the pained player over the boundary line and told him to “get off the *#$!ing ground”. It made me smile to think of the difference between the sexes.

But empathy shouldn’t be mistaken for passivity. There is more than enough aggression and boofheadedness in this world. Many of the world’s leaders – especially the old, crusty male variety – will tell you that politics is a contest of ideals and ideas. More often, though, it’s a shouting match – the domain of opportunists ready to trumpet the capture of asylum seekers to sell their credentials on election day.

And yet, if those in power are truly a reflection of the population, then Australia is undergoing a positive female-driven shift. Maybe more women have woken up to the fact that the major parties weren’t representing them; maybe they’re taking the driver’s seat.

The groundswell of support for Teal independents is symbolic of a sisterhood that can see the prospect of a better world. Fortunately, from a blokey perspective, it’s not a case of us and them. I think there are enough men who can see the positives of women in power.

A group of goats is called a tribe or a trip. It’s easy enough to apply the term to women, for they’re a wonderful group of people nearly always in a state of positive motion. You might be part of that tribe or, like me, travelling along with them. Whatever your gender, get aboard the GOAT boat and channel some female energy. It’s great. The greatest of all time.

Gippslandia - Issue No. 23

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