10 Most Polarizing Athletes


By Rodimus Dunn

Michael Vick- Even before he was convicted for dog fighting he was a rather polarizing figure.  People loved him because he was the most exciting player in football, he had some serious swag, and he was basically unguardable in the Madden games, and he made the Falcons, by actually getting them to the playoffs. Others couldn’t stand him because he was a black quarterback, he wasn’t a “pocket passer”, he wasn’t that efficient of a quarterback, and because he did stupid stuff like get arrested for marijuana possession, flip the bird to his home fans, and he didn’t take his job seriously.  Now that he’s out of jail, some people hate him because they just can’t forgive someone who caused such harm to dogs; some love him because they feel he’s contrite and deserves a shot at redemption.  Now that he’s the starting quarterback in Philadelphia, some hate him because they don’t think its fair Kevin Kolb’s job lost his job due to an injury, and they don’t trust him as a long term solution.  Other’s love him because he’s still exciting, he’s putting up great fantasy points, and they’re beginning to realize that Kolb really isn’t that good.  Is there anyone more polarizing right now than Ron Mexico?

Alex Ovechkin- Hockey players are supposed to be low key, humble, not attention seeking, and basically boring.  Ovechkin is none of the above, so hockey purists can’t stand him.  He’s basically a rock star on skates, he celebrates his goals like the sport has never seen before, and he takes more shots than Kobe Bryant; this is exactly why most fans can’t get enough of the guy.  He wouldn’t be so polarizing if his perfect juxtaposition Sidney Crosby wasn’t also a star in the league.  Crosby is statistically just as impressive as Ovechkin, but he’s all the things hockey players are expected to be, and he’s Canadian.  It’s a classic good vs. evil situation, but Ovie is so electrifying, he gets plenty of love also.

I don’t think he cares that his shades are upside-down

Tony Romo- Even if he never said or did anything controversial, Romo would be polarizing simply because he is the QB of the Dallas Cowboys.  Unfortunately, he adds gasoline to the fire because he often doesn’t show up in big games, he continually loses playoff games, and his focus is questioned because he dates starlets (Jessica Simpson, Carrie Underwood). If one considers those things and all the press the Cowboys receive, people get annoyed.  On the other hand he’s got a huge camp of supporters because he’s a very likable person, he works really hard, he puts up great stats (for the fantasy peeps), and he makes at least one wow play every game.  If this guy could ever win a Super Bowl …

it seems like every Cowboys’ playoff game ends with this picture

David Beckham- People hate “Becks” because he’s very rich (even though he’s not a top 10 player internationally), he’s a model, he’s married to “Posh,” he lives a rock star life, and they think he cares about his image more than he cares about being a great footballer.  People love Becks because he brings excitement to the pitch every time he touches the ball (people stop what they’re doing to see if he’ll do one of his trademark bends on a free kick), he always gave it his all once he put on that England jersey, and of course because he lives a rock star life.

my uniform was just too tight, so I took it off

Derrick Jeter- The people who dislike “the captain” fall into four categories: Red Sox fans, people who just simply loathe the Yankees and their endless revenue stream, those who don’t like people who always seem to do everything right and always end up on top, and those who think he’s overrated.  Although these aren’t really good reasons to dislike someone who seems to be a stand up guy, there are countless people who fall into those four categories.  Everyone else loves Jeter.  He’s a great player, he’s a winner, he’s clutch, he never gets into trouble on or off the field, and he dates models without flaunting it.  He really shouldn’t be a polarizing figure, but unfortunately he is.

I’d be smiling too if I hung out with Victoria’s Secret models

Shaquile O’Neal- Many years ago the only people who didn’t like Shaq were the many people who were on the other end of his savage dunks.  What was there not to like?  The guy is a giant, but acts like an 8 year old, he makes goofy children’s movies, he makes terrible rap songs, he’s an awesome sound bite (he’s famously talked about ninjas, the Pythagorean theorem, Aristotle, etc), he’s won multiple championships, and he used to break backboards.  Shaq was easily the most compelling figure in the NBA for many years.  People who don’t like Shaq point to: how he often came into camp woefully out of shape, he regularly complained about how many shots and touches he got, how he throws people under the bus when he leaves their team (Dwyane Wade, Anfernee Hardaway), how he made racist comments about Yao Ming, how he was allegedly sleeping with Gilbert Arenas’ woman for years, his unnecessary quibble with Dwight Howard about the superman nickname, him blatantly stealing Steve Nash’s reality TV show idea, his part in the ridiculous feud with Kobe Bryant, and of course this horrible rap.

can you dig it?!?!?

Serena Williams- Even though tennis is an international sport, it has never been highly represented by blacks; many people don’t like Serena because she’s the biggest draw in the sport and she’s black.  Other reasons people have issues with her are: they think she’s focused on other things aside from tennis, she can be quite over the top towards the lines person, they think her outfits are too distracting, they think her father orchestrated the outcome of her matches against Venus, and they think she isn’t always in the best shape (aka she doesn’t try hard enough).  People love Serena because she’s usually very affable during interviews, her amazing rags to riches story, she’s clearly the best player on tour, and that she’s focused on other things aside from tennis.  I understand that’s a reason why people dislike her, but she and Venus have been lionized and demonized for years regarding outside interests.

Lebron James- Until July 8, 2010 Lebron was the most beloved figure in the NBA by a wide margin.  He was arguably the best player in the league, he always seemed to be having fun with his teammates, he was playing in his home state, and he was the leader of a championship contending team.  Halfway through The Decision (which he got ESPN to televise) he became a polarizing figure once he announced he was taking his talents to South Beach.  He’s hated for ditching his team unceremoniously, being too weak to win a ring by himself, being self-centered and myopic, and for being a quitter.  Even though his shine has eroded quite a bit, he’s loved by many for being humble enough to take less money in order to win.

Timothy Richard Tebow- One wouldn’t expect to be polarizing when they’ve only been involved in two plays in their professional career, but Tim Tebow has been polarizing for many years already.  There’s intense hatred against him for basically three reasons: 1. EXTREME hype and adulation by the media; 2. being very open about his religious beliefs; 3. never saying or doing anything wrong, so people inherently want him to fail.  He is a victim of overexposure by the media (similar to Brett Favre, the Dallas Cowboys, Yankees, Red Sox, and the Lakers), so that in turn creates a huge backlash.  Many love Tebow because he’s a winner and great leader, he’s open about his Christian faith (he’s made missionary trips to the Philippines for goodness sakes), and he’s a good football player.  Even if he ends up being just a marginal professional player he’s still going to invoke intense passion on both sides his whole career.  All I know is that if you’re fortunate enough to spend five or twenty minutes around Tim Tebow, your life is better for it.

I don’t think these boys know he’s there to give some circumcisions

Kobe Bryant- Other than Barack Obama, is there a more polarizing figure in the whole United States (I’m almost being serious)?  Why do people dislike Kobe?  Well, he seems completely disingenuous every time he opens his mouth, he comes off VERY arrogant, he can be a ball hog, he appeared to be the one more at fault in his feud with Shaq, he was accused of rape just six months after his first child was born, he makes those ridiculous, contrived, mean faces after he hits a big shot, and he annoyingly tried to be a Michael Jordan clone.  Why do people adore Kobe?  His talent is awe inspiring; no player evokes fear in the competition like Kobe does, he’s a bone a fide winner, and he’s probably the most clutch player since Michael Jordan.  As long as Kobe keeps winning and putting up insane numbers he’s going to have a strong following, unfortunately, the people who chide him have enough ammunition to keep their guns a blazing for many years also.

really Kobe?

really?


1 comment for “10 Most Polarizing Athletes

  1. Michael Keller
    September 26, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    I’ve loathed Jeter since the 1996 playoffs, when his flyout-turned-bogus-homerun helped the Yankees beat the Orioles. After the game he was interviewed and said it would have been a double if not for fan interference and he would have been driven in anyway.
    You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.

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