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GOAT leaves me cold

Is Novak Djokovic the GOAT [Greatest Of All Time]?

One cannot compare eras, as Djokovic rightly said in an interview after his French Open victory and record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam singles title, but where would he sit against the greats of the past, such as Aussies Rod Laver and Roy Emerson in the 1960s, Bjorn Borg of the 70s and 80s, or even Fred Perry in the 1930s?

No doubt, Djokovic is right near the apex, and statistically, yes, he is the greatest, and I’m certain he will add to his legacy with further titles. However, the debate will go on for years about whether the steely Serb is better than the other two modern superstars, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, both players with bucket loads more charisma.

That, in a nutshell, is what this opinion piece is all about – those sports stars I cannot warm to – you know, the ones that, no matter what they win or how much they succeed, you can simply not warm to.

Maybe it’s his stoic, almost robotic style of play or perceived lack of passion and emotion, but there is something that doesn’t sit right with this polarising figure.

But Djokovic is not alone, and there are plenty of other sports stars and teams I have struggled to warm to, and in most cases, for reasons I cannot put my finger on.

Staying with tennis, Maria Sharapova, the winner of all four grand slam tournaments, a drugs cheat, and the possessor of one of tennis’s loudest grunts, with one recording reaching 103 decibels, is one that I struggled to watch or take seriously. Maybe she was just another spoilt tennis brat.

Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong always had that air of suspicion about him, and that fuelled my coldness towards him and then, of course, it eventually all came out in the inevitable teary interview that he was arguably the greatest cheat world sport has known, having doped his way to seven Tour de France wins.

England’s cricket great, Sir Geoffrey Boycott [108 tests 1964-1982], made the sport of watching paint dry popular, and his later television commentary exploits were equally as riveting. Need I say more?

Shane Warne, the late Aussie leg-spinning legend. By including him, I will create debate, and although I admire his achievements, he is one player I simply could not take a liking to. Was it because he was your typical Aussie larrikin, or was he just too good?

Wallabies outside back Stirling Mortlock and Aussie netball great Vicki Wilson. Did they simply break New Zealand hearts too often, or were they just brilliant exponents? Whatever, they both left me shivering on an iceberg.

If I dug deep enough, there are plenty more individuals who, for some reason, from their style of play to dodgy dealings, outsized egos, or for some other inexplicable rationale, just don’t do it for me.

Then there are the teams. The Crusaders, Canterbury Rugby, Auckland Rugby, the sworn enemy Liverpool, the Dallas Cowboys, LA Lakers, New York Yankees, and England Rugby, and although I admire their amazing achievements, I love seeing them being beaten because they just leave me searching for my thermals.

Which sportspersons or teams leave you cold? Let me know!

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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