Joe photo credit: Joe Thomas and Simone Biles by Erik Drost CC by 2.0

Definition: (acronym) Greatest of All Time

Example: As a three-time champion, Verb the Border Collie is the G.O.A.T. of agility trials.


“The way I conquer the world is spiritual
I'm imperial
Everlasting, the best who ever did it
Holdin’ the crown down, can't nobody get it
Germany, Italy, France, Japan
London, Africa, bow to The Master - The G.O.A.T.."
- rapper L.L. Cool J

Gymnast Simone Biles (shown above participating in a celebrity baseball game) has made headlines this year, both for her incredible athletic prowess and for the sparkly goat she wears on her leotards in competitions. Biles, 24, is widely acknowledged as the G.O.A.T. (pronounced “goat”) in her sport. She’s won gold in four Olympics so far (among many, many other medals) and will likely win more in the future with her amazing moves, some of which are even named for her.

But not everyone approves of her confidence. In fact, the addition of the goat image to her uniform was a result of people criticizing her for believing she is the best. In a June 14 Interview with Marie Claire magazine, Biles explains she started wearing the rhinestone goat to “hit back at the haters” who claim she ought to be humbler about her success. She continues, “[I]t's like, everybody can say you're good, but once you acknowledge it, it's not cool anymore.”

Biles is hardly the first athlete to have this problem. Boxer Mohammad Ali was as famous for self-promotion as his skill in the ring. After beating Sonny Liston in the 1964 World Heavyweight Boxing Championship at only 22, he told reporters, “I’m the greatest! I shook up the world!” Ali’s claim of greatness is the likeliest source of the G.O.A.T. acronym.

Like Biles, Ali struggled with haters, but rather than putting a goat image on his shorts (G.O.A.T. was not widely pronounced “goat” before LL Cool J’s 2000 hit quoted above) he fought back with words, claiming, “It’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as I am.” I imagine that Biles would agree with his other justification: “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.” She certainly has the medals to do so.

A. C. Kemp | June 29, 2021

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