Goat rope (also referred to as goat rodeo) is an expression that refers to a hectic, confusing, disorganized situation, often with too many people involved.
Mainstream media usually uses the expression in TV news-broadcasts and in print when showing situations where law-enforcement is involved, such as arrests or gunfights in public places that involve multiple personnel, often involving civilians.
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The expression started to appear in the early 1900s, originating from the activity of multiple people attempting to catch goats with ropes, which was a common sight at fairs in the U.S.
This exercise was often very fast-paced and hectic due to its nature, and eventually became a catchphrase that is used to describe any situation that depicts a similarly fashioned scenario.
Spread and Usage
From the 1970s, goat rope has been used as a jargon in the U.S. Military to describe an operation or undertaking involving an unnecessarily large number of people, most of them contributing nothing or actually impeding progress.
In 2020, a series of footage was uploaded on YouTube by the channel Active Self Protection, which shows the events of a brutal, chaotic police procedure in New Orleans. The video received the title “Goat Rope Caught on Badge Cams New Orleans”, and has generated over 1.5 million views to date.