Home » Why Do People Love to Hate Certain Athletes?

Why Do People Love to Hate Certain Athletes?

by Victor

I’ll be truthful. Sports and I have long had a love-hate relationship. I’ve experienced some of the most exhilarating moments in my life while watching sports. sports competitions at the professional, collegiate, and even young levels involve my children. On the other hand, I believe that as a lifetime supporter of the Buffalo Bills, Sabres, and New York Mets, I have experienced heartbreak more frequently than the majority of American sports fans.

However, the emotional whirlwind experienced by sports fans is unreal. By this I mean, it is a consciously chosen, and for some of us, self-inflicted adventure — the ups, downs and the loop-d-loops of a sports season are all emotions we choose to experience in order to escape — boredom, anxiety, extistential angst, you name it — there is nothing of our mundane lives that can’t be left behind for the greener pastures of the ball field or our small but essential part in the pursuit of Lord Stanley’s coveted beer trough.

However, during the covid lockdowns, I believe many of us found that sports are more than just a means of escape. Although we could all use an escape route right now, there is a sense of belonging, camaraderie, and even rivalry that is conspicuously missing from our lives. As they say, absence makes the heart long for some postseason hockey and early season baseball. Even my wife, who may be the least sports-interested person to ever walk the face of the planet, has observed the absence of the sounds, schedules, and mayhem of baseball spring training. No Keith Hernandez and Gary Cohen reassuringly chit-chatting on TV as the Mets manage their customary April surge before sinking later in the season. There was no pondering what it would be like to support an NHL hockey team that even occasionally had a cameo appearance in the playoffs, no eating every other meal from different Little League concession booths (to the pleasure of my kids and the dismay of my wife).

I don’t think I realized how important a role sports had played and even more so how important a role they still played in my life until after sports vanished. I experienced a lot of failures and some victories on the field when I was younger, but not having those experiences would have been life altering. 

The players themselves and all their faults become front and center. We get to see all their quirks and much of their selfish behavior. This goes for on and off the field. Some of the most hated athletes of all time are just regular people like you or I, looking for a competitive advantage. Still, it certainly does feel good to dislike certain traits in an athlete, especially since you are seeing them on a regular basis and information about them is only a few clicks or taps away. 

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