Turn on the television and find a sporting event, any sporting event. Every player you see fits into one of the following categories. This is a personal list, but maybe you’ll be inspired to create your own.
Players I Loathe: There are certain athletes out there that I just can’t stand. Maybe you agree with me regarding some players on this list: A-Rod, Famous-Jameis, Pierzynski, Kobe, Cutler, Josh Beckett, to name a few. When it comes down to it, my enjoyment of sports would be so much better if these guys disappeared. I’ve actually recently made a conscious effort to keep from adding any more athletes to this list – because it’s so easy to root against these guys, and yet it’s really not all that gratifying when they lose, it feels more like relief. I hate the idea of these guys succeeding . . . in sports or in life. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that, you can see why I’m trying to keep this category to a bare minimum.
One additional note here: although there’s plenty of players on my favorite teams that I can’t stand, you won’t see them on this list. That’s an entirely different category, keep reading.
Players I Enjoy Rooting Against: There are some athletes that I just enjoy rooting against. The best example I can give is Peyton Manning. I respect the heck out of him, and I am genuinely glad he is in the league. I do not wish him any ill will in life . . . but I just enjoy rooting for him to fail on the football field. I am not sure I can explain it. Lebron James fell into this category after he signed with Miami: he was still a once-in-a-generation basketball talent who had every right to sign with whatever team he wanted, but suddenly it was much more fun to root against him. Other examples include Tiger Woods, Novak Djokovic, most alumni of Duke or Ohio State.
Players I Never Think About: There are probably lots of guys in this category, I just can’t think of any right now.
Players I Enjoy Rooting For: These are guys that don’t play for a team I particularly care about, but I feel some kind of artificial connection to them that makes me pull for them. They are the fun underdog stories, or the humorous postgame quotables, or maybe they just happen to be on your fantasy team. Players in this category change constantly, so I won’t even bother giving any examples.
Players of the Home Team: I wish this category was as simple as the title, but it’s not. Why? Because when you care way too much about a stupid sports team (and if you’re reading this blog, you probably do), the players on that team feel like family . . . as in, you’re stuck with them. There are the homegrown stars you are happy to treat like your own for as long as they play, but then there are the underperforming free agents that make you want to turn your eyes from the TV every time they come up to bat. And then there’s a bunch of players in between. The weird thing is, there are guys who play for my favorite teams that I can’t stand, and drive me crazier than anyone from the “players I loathe” list. But in the end, I still want them to succeed, which in turn drives me even crazier as I realize how absurd it is that my emotional well-being lies in the hands of millionaires I’ve never met. But that’s what it is to be a sports fan, and I suppose we wouldn’t want it any other way.