To shoot some hoops, or to make a putt for a living really seems like all fun and games, does it not?
Well on the contrary, it is much more stressful than that. It might seem simplistic in nature. However, sports stars are under tremendous pressure and stress, often resulting in them appearing to just be jerks.
The fact of that matter is that a stadium is packed with 50,000+ fans watching the game, over 20 million watching any sports game live on TV. Then there’s the media which constantly picks on your character, social media which is unfiltered and also the feeling of having your job performance constantly being scrutinized. It can get stressful, and it’s often why some of the greatest sports stars really turn out to be rude, or disliked by many fans despite their on-field/on-court heroics.
From Alex Rodriguez to Floyd Mayweather, to Tiger Woods, something about their legacies will forever be tarnished because it was always just hard to ‘like them’. There’s something in common that they all have that might be contributing towards this. All have made crazy amounts of money, which can often drive one insane. No doubt though, they all have the desire and obsessive nature to win over all costs. This often makes the most amazing and talented sports stars into cold, distant and rude personalities. Only a few people have found that balance – Lionel Messi, Muhammad Ali, Roger Federer to name a few.
Sports fans expect a lot. They want amazing sports personalities and super human efforts on the field. This is not always the case. We take a look at the top 20 athletes that are actually jerks in real life:
20 Barry Bonds
Think of the words steroids, and the name Barry Bonds comes to mind. He is a legend in baseball, but also a legendary tough, rude guy. He broke Hank Aaron’s record for home runs hit, but not many people were happy. Imagine that, breaking an all-time record only to be booed?
He prettyover 10 years, he really is one of the most unlikable characters not only in MLB, but in the history of sport. He pretty much argued with anyone he could find and was not an example for up and coming players in the league. He basically offered Gary Sheffield straight up when they two decided to work out. He argued and came close to punches with fans and teammates during his time in Pittsburgh as well as San Francisco. Add to all of this, that he had an affair for
19 Danica Patrick
A ground-breaker, a sports legend and exemplar for all females in all sports, Danica Patrick also has a side to her which not many people like. In a qualification round in Pocoono, fans booed her and the video quickly went viral. It was due to the fact that she refused to give her autographs to her fans. As great a driver Patrick is, she never engaged with her fans the way most sports people do. She quickly replied on social media that the boos were hurtful, and that she has feelings as well. This epitomizes the tough relationship with fans who often adore her, but have not been receiving the same kind of affection by Patrick.
She is also known for being quite short-tempered, getting involved in scuffles with other drivers, such as Ryan Briscoe and Mike Duno. It may also be attributed to the fact that she is in a male dominated sport, which is why she may be receiving undeserved hatred spewed towards her, resulting in a seemingly unfriendly personality.
18 Alex Rodriguez
An MLB legend, A-Rod really epitomized the league for a long time. He was essentially the face of the league, and had bene the reasons many people attended MLB games. He however, was one of the leagues most self-obsessed players, and when you’re that self-involved it is hard to be liked. A few of things he has done is getting a photoshoot of himself kissing his reflection and has A-Rod centaur paintings in his bedroom. Such ridiculous displays of arrogance is hard to relate for the ordinary sports fan. He was also later revealed to be using performance enhancing drugs, which got him a lengthy suspension. It’s hard then to say his a legend, when he is known to be taking supplements which gives him an illegal advantage over his counterparts.
17 Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett is just a tough character, no two ways about it. He was not one to ‘mince his words’ or ‘bite his tongue’, which often gave the impression that he was arrogant, selfish and obnoxious. I’d rather say he was relentless. Remember that time he slapped Spurs legend Tim Duncan in the face? For years, he never let that go, and kept the taunting going for years. The NBA is generally a sport where any issues is sorted out on the court, but Garnett seemed to think otherwise. As an example of this, he nicknamed Glen Davis as “Big Baby”, a nickname which never left him throughout his career.
KG was often screaming and lamenting his team in front of fans. It never gained him any likability with those that followed his career. He was also known for some rather ‘unwelcoming’ initiation activities for welcoming rookies. Yikes!
16 O.J. Simpson
O.J. Simpson anyone? Probably one of the most spoken about sports stars in the last decade, but only for the wrong reasons. Not to re-hash, but his controversial past really left people even wondering what kind of sport he played.
The situation with O.J. Simpson is that he was accused of mercilessly killing his ex-wife and boyfriend. Despite seemingly overwhelming evidence, he was found not guilty of all charges. This is what upset people the most that the verdict seemed obvious but he was left without a scratch to his name. During the trial, he also came off as cold and arrogant. He eventually got arrested for robbery and sentenced to prison, and many people celebrated this. His outside the field business will always overshadow his career in the NFL.
15 Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey is a ground breaker in MMA. With this, comes the personality that has helped her be successful but also really lamented by the MMA, fans and opponents as well. There’s no doubt, that Ronda Rousey is quite rude to her opponents. Miesha Tate got the worst of it, when Rousey unloaded a pile of insults of note. She also did not back her tough talking when she got head kicked by Holly Holm, and did not lose with much grace.
It was more the fact that she spoke ill about the fans, and had several run ins with the media which were filled with excuses and an ask for a rematch for the title that came to soon and much undeserved as well (which she lost again). Former associates of Rousey's have claimed the fame has gotten to her head, with her former manager Darin Harvey saying following her first loss:
“I created a monster,’’ Harvey said. “She believed she was as special as the press made her out to be.
“They give me absolutely no credit for the success of her career. She’s not a good person. You don’t forget where you came from.’’
14 Phil Mickleson
Being a disliked golfer is one of the most bemusing things ever as by virtue of the same, it is quite passive and self-absorbed. It is you and the golf ball that you are facing. However, Phil Mickleson somehow was able to fit the image of being a disliked golfer. Mickleson is an interesting person, as he appears as the true family man in the public eye. However, speaking to golfer insiders, you’ll quickly learn, much too many people’s surprise, that no one actually likes him. ‘Annoying’ is the term that was given to Mickleson, because it is as if he ‘puts on an image’ which is really not him – comes off a bit as insincere.
He bad mouthed Tiger Woods in 2003, by criticizing his equipment and called him ‘jealous’. This was badly looked on, as Golf is a generally a gentleman’s game. He also famously skipped the 2005 Tour Championship after a TV contract fail, which was a bit ‘diva’ like.
13 Diego Costa
The Brazilian born, Spanish striker Diego Costa is a well-known villain in soccer. He just takes the cake when it comes to being a difficult and dirty player. During his time with Atletico Madrid, he several times was seen hurling spit towards Sergio Ramos and Pepe in the Madrid derbies. During his time with Chelsea, he bit Gareth Barry during a game versus Everton, which saw him sent off. He is always booed by opposing fans, because of his overly aggressive nature. Even if he is not directly involved in the game, he always tries to agitate players with childish antics and unnecessary pushes and shoves. That’s his modus operandi, and how he has always operated – but it has earned him a much disliked title.
12 Sean Avery
It should come no surprise to any ardent fan that Sean Avery makes this list. He really defined the phrase ‘he fights when he wants’. It is something that epitomized Avery’s hockey career, whether it be verbal or physical fights. He hurled racist comments towards Georges Larague, which really tarnished his image. Dion Phaneuf, was given an unsanitary congratulations when he started dating Avery’s ex, calling her ‘leftovers / sloppy seconds’. He has been enrolled in anger management classes forever, but it does not seem as if it helped. During an NHL game, he waved his hand in front of the goaltender, which is unsportsmanlike manner. Avery really did not help himself the way he interacted with fans as well, as he often also got in verbal spats with fans. The NHL is already notorious for fights, but Avery took it to another level.
11 Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods would not have always made the list, but he has become unlikeable and rude as a sports star over time. When Woods was in his prime, everything was going well. He was by basically everyone that believed in great stories. However, Tiger always had a weakness, which was his ego. Ultimately, this led to his downfall in his personal life, which translated to his golf and evidently in his character. He stole the spotlight from players even when it was not his turn, such as when Mickleson won the Masters. Such instances gradually led to him being a distant figure with the public. He would stroll along with his caddie with a chip on his shoulder.
Needless to say when his affairs were exposed, and his DUI was revealed, he was just no longer the Tiger we all knew. He maintained a distant, arrogant figure that just didn’t seem to be likeable anymore.
10 Michael Jordan
The greatest player of all-time Michael Jordan is a known mean man. He is recognized as the perfect basketball player, but had many flaws in his character and often had a love-hate relationship with the public and media. His often obsession with winning was his greatest trait but also a clear flaw. During a visit to Buzz Peterson’s home in North Carolina, Jordan cheated Peterson’s mother in a game of friendly cards. This happened as she went to the bathroom. With no pressure, and no cameras around, his desire to win caused him to cheat.
Needless to say he left the NBA with many enemies, because he was one of the biggest chirpers in the league. He also spoke down to Kwame Brown, a second year pick who was struggling in the NBA, often reducing him to tears. He even spoke bad about his good friend Charles Barkley behind his back before they went up against each other in the NBA finals in 1993, calling him a ‘fat****. Ultimately a drive to win is why he is great but also hated.
9 Rio Ferdinand
Manchester United Legend Rio Ferdinand just has this thing about him that comes off as unlikable. He is a loud, no nonsense character but never really got the warmth and appreciation from Manchester United or England fans. He just has an untidy playing style and his loud mouth does not help with his. He was brash in his challenges on the field, but also had a loud mouth on the field against his team mates and opposition players as well. He kicked a female steward, just showing what a crazy defender he was.
His serial tweeting also never gained him any warmth fans, by getting in fights with random Twitter users that only have 20 followers. He also tweeted a derogatory term, calling former England team mate Ashley Cole a “choc-ie’. That’s rather a classless way to deal with a personal issue.
8 Lance Armstrong
A recurring theme is the ‘from hero to zero’ theme, much as Lance Armstrong’s narrative is. His dramatic seven wins at the Tour de France possibly placed him at the time as the greatest sportsman across all sports that ever lived. Because he overcame cancer, this pushed him to legendary status, which earned him a lot of money and adoration around the world. Several years later, the shameful confession that Armstrong had been doping in all those years marked him as possibly the worst sportsman that ever lived.
The issue many people had that when he confessed, he came across as really insincere, especially during his interview with Oprah. He almost seemed as if he was forced into it, and did not apologize sincerely. Additionally, the money and endorsement he achieved during those times he already benefitted from. From star to fraud, it’s one of the saddest stories in sports history of how Armstrong became so disliked in a matter of seconds.
7 Ashley Cole
There’s several reasons why Ashley Cole is disliked, despite being one of the best players of his era. He made the controversial move between London rivals, moving from Arsenal to Chelsea. Already, this move got half of London and any Arsenal supporter ultimately hating Cole for an eternity. One of the main reasons people don’t like Ashley Cole, is because cheated on sweetheart Cheryl Cole. Firstly, it bemuses most people as to why he would ever cheat on the gorgeous Cheryl Cole, who is one of the sweetest characters and in a revealing interview with Piers Morgan cried and was deeply hurt by it. He was also one of the first players that seemed to move away from a club with prestige for financial gain, which came across as self-absorbed and greedy.
6 Tyson Gay
One of the fastest men in the world, Tyson Gay has never been liked as a sprinter, even in his early days when he was up and coming. He is largely to blame for this. Fans watch sports with the vulnerability of trusting that athletes are clean from any enhancing drugs. Gay broke this trust, when he received a one year ban for testing positive for steroids, called DHEA. He provided information to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, ratting out other teammates which can come across as honorable or selfish (because it reduced his ban).
He has always had a tough exterior, and never really made an effort to interact with fans or be the Usain Bolt of America. It's this hard character that people, even American supporters struggled to relate to. It might seem harsh, but the moment he betrayed the trust of sports watchers, he became instantly labelled as dislikable.
5 A. J. Pierzynski
Pierzynski has long been a solid MLB player. He played his craft in Minnesota, San Francisco, Chicago, Texas, and later on in Boston and Atlanta. ‘Crazy’ would be a mild way to describe his personality however. He admittedly knew he was a bit of a bad character, and understood that many fans disliked him because of his character. One of the biggest criticisms towards Pierzynski is that he treats you based on your experience in the MLB.
Basically, if you’re a rookie or a newbie, Pierzynski would not even recognize you, or purposefully make you feel unwelcomed. He got boos regularly, even from his home crowd, hurled towards him, and several run-ins with GMs. Fittingly, he had a stint in professional wrestling, which basically affirmed everything about his tough personality and character.
4 Justin Gatlin
Another American sprinter that is known more for his doping than his speed, Justin Gatlin has gained a reputation for being disliked by athletic fans, and his own home crowd as well. It’s not the fact that he doped once. Many sports stars were forgiven for an initially doping, but then recovering and not doing it again. It’s the fact that Justin Gatlin cheated and doped twice and still was allowed in the Olympics and IAAF tournaments despite this.
He also was not the most graceful loser, often failing to congratulate Usain Bolt usually after a 100m dash. He also spat in Bolt’s lane to distract him, but that never worked. He admitted that the crowds does not phase him when the boo him. With such an attitude, it’s no surprise that he is disliked, because quite frankly it does not bother him.
3 Nick Kyrgios
Not to make excuses for Kyrgios, because he came up in the tennis world at a very young age, often as a wild card but was crazy talented but maybe did not have the maturity to be a big star. Now, an established player it seems his antics has not changed, and still one of the reasons many people don’t like him. He extraordinarily sledges opponents, most noticeably Wawrinka. In an exchange, he said ‘he banked your girlfriend’ – some sledges go too far, and that was one of it, in fact way overboard. His negative attitude saw him just give up in a game against Richard Gasquet, something tennis legends such as Nadal and Federer would never do. It upsets fans that he has not lost the wild child reputation, and that he does not have the discipline to make use of his endless talent to win any titles.
2 Lleyton Hewitt
Lleyton Hewitt comes across as quite the funky and likable Australian tennis player, who is always there and thereabouts when it comes to Grand Slam tournaments. Not the most talented player, Hewitt has however challenged deep into some Grand Slam titles as well as Masters Titles. Behind this seemingly normal character, lies a controversial character as well, and one that has caused him serious dislike with the tennis community. During a US Open match in 2001, he was playing against James Blake. Hewitt blew up with anger when he had several foot faults called against him by a black linesman. Fuming and in a moment of utter madness, he approached the chair umpire and asked him to tell ‘the difference between the two (Blake was black as well). The incident tarnished his reputation as well as tennis, which is generally a sport with a very clean image. He earned himself of being a disliked character by fellow tennis players and fans as well.
1 Floyd Mayweather Jr
How can one hate a boxer with a 50-0 record? It’s the greatest boxing record there is, yet there are millions of sports followers that absolutely hate Floyd Mayweather. It’s not down to one reason, but rather a multitude. His extravagant and often unnecessary spending of money and showboating of it is one. His unsportsmanlike conduct in and off the court towards his opponent is another. However, it is mainly the boxing style and the way he reached 50 undefeated matches that upsets people and makes him really disliked. In one of the toughest fights of his career. He illegally punched Victor Ortiz and was deemed one of the most unsportsmanlike moves ever. Mayweather also never came across as someone that liked the sport, but always was in it for the money.
‘The money team’ brand seemed to matter to him more, buying 22 cars, burning a $100 bill in an Atlanta night club and making money the biggest piece of conversation before most fights. He also has a history of domestic abuse. When all is said and done, Mayweather is one of the greatest boxers that ever lived who has more fans in his career that hated him than supported him.
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