Hate (v.): to dislike intensely or passionately;
feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest.
Hate is a word that is more prevalent now than ever before. Now everyone either hates something or hates someone…or has haters. In today’s society having someone dislike you is common, and it seems that the more people that dislike you, the more publicized you will become. To some, being infamous trumps being famous, and as we all know, bad news travels faster and further than good news. This following of detractors (haters), is much more noticeable when looking at public figures; for example preachers, politicians, celebrities, etc. I’ll focus on high profile athletes, more particularly, six athletes and how they have been the “most hated” at one point in time. This is not in any particular order or a top 5, but more a general representation or perception of the different outcomes that massive followings of critics can cause.
This first couple athletes are a part of a category who was once hated but somehow has redeemed himself. Take Michael Vick for example. Several years ago, his name had a general feeling of disgust tied to it for millions of people, organizations and pet-lovers across the globe. After serving two years in prison, participating in numerous community service events and successfully revamping his image, Vick came back to the NFL. He played sparingly for 1 year before being handed the keys and becoming the leader and star player for the Philadelphia Eagles. Although most every sports fan in America is very familiar with the Michael Vick story, it was an unlikely outcome back in 2007.
Or should we talk about Ron Artest, the stifling defender and rebounder for the Los Angeles Lakers? The guy who won an NBA Championship and then thanked his psychiatrist (should have known there was a problem!). Seems like a nice guy and well received around the league and with fans. I guess those fans have forgotten how on that cold November day in 2004, he frantically maneuvered through the crowd and recklessly took out several Detroit natives with his fist. I would have laughed in your face, had you told me that seven years later this guy would go on to win a Championship alongside Kobe, and then change his name to Metta World Peace.
Unlike the two figures I just mentioned, there are those who are still fighting their way back to where they once were. As the target of arguably the most publicized scandal in sports history, Tiger Woods has experienced a hatred that reached unprecedented levels. Journalists, sports fans, and people all over the world are putting a magnifying glass to his once private, personal life. Woods has been broken and left alone to pick up the fragments. Now, we’re lucky to just catch a glimpse of the Masters contender we knew years ago. Yes, Woods committed adultery and by NO MEANS do I condone that, but I firmly believe that “he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.” Kobe Bryant was caught up in a considerably worse scandal (accused of rape in 2003) that seemed to blow over like the mountain winds of Colorado. Maybe when the charges were dropped, everybody forgot that it still wasn’t morally right, and took it to be another false accusation. Regardless of the scenario, there is one specific reason why Woods was ostracized on such a wide platform compared to Kobe…Tiger is a golfer, which is known to be a gentleman’s game, making him the obvious choice for public ridicule. Basketball, however is almost a polar opposite. Those athletes are almost expected to act in a reckless manner at some point. As it stands, Woods may have slid down from most hated to the “most pitied.” I just hope that one day soon he regains his confidence, swagger, and dignity as a person and a golfer.
One of the most current examples and one that I do not completely understand, is Floyd Mayweather, who has several controversial wins including the latest against Ortiz. His situation is a little different for a couple reasons; peoples’ disdain for him doesn’t come from the things he does outside the ring…it stems from the things he does while doing his job. His sport is judged and can be left up to human decision and error. And it doesn’t seem to help that he’s currently undefeated with more than half of his wins coming from knockouts. Hate him or not, the allure of each and every one of his fights is based on this fact, making it hard not to be apathetic toward the boxers’ career. (Still, I believe that Floyd has far more fans than haters).
I would like to discuss…yep you guessed it…Lebron James. Maybe everyone hates him because he refers to himself as a King. Maybe it’s the 93 million dollar Nike contract right out of high school, or maybe you hate him because you were one of the many people that profited off of him while he struggled year after year trying to carry the Cleveland Cavaliers organization on his back. Whatever reason you choose isn’t relevant. I was astonished to see citizens of Cleveland, Ohio actually burning his jersey. Really? After everything he did to plug that city into conversations of basketball enthusiasts around the world, not to mention the amount of dollars he pumped into the local economy 41 nights out of the year (add to that several significant stints in the playoffs). The man simply took less money and went to play with legitimate players in an effort to actually win a Championship. How could anyone fault him for that? There has been no rape case, no animal cruelty, and no adultery. Some may say that they hate the way that he carries himself, but for a person who has received incredible amounts of attention and scrutiny from the media since his teenage years in Ohio, I believe he has handled himself quite well.
Ironically, Lebron received the honors of the top spot out of all 500 players, in ESPN’s fantasy player rankings for the 2012 season. Only time will tell how successful his career will be (depends on how many championships won), but there is absolutely no reason to hate the guy.