Sports debates are as much a national pastime as the games themselves, so there are plenty of candidates for America’s Most Disliked Athletes. The Forbes list settles the debate, for now, but is the one you most love to hate number one?
Forbes’ list of America’s Most Disliked Athletes includes some big names who have gained much unwelcome publicity lately. Lance Armstrong finally admitted to doping and cheating the entire time he won a record seven Tour De France titles. Manti Te’o was another athlete everyone was talking about after the exposure of his fake girlfriend humiliated him.
Using Neilsen/E-poll surveys, Forbes compiled the list of America’s Most Disliked Athletes and it's no contest as Armstrong tops the list, but Te’o is an interesting case. Armstrong appeals to just 15 percent of the public; aside from his cheating there were countless reports of Armstrong trying to destroy who tried to expose him.
Te’o was tied with Armstrong, but the disgraced cyclist got the top spot due to his name recognition, notes Forbes. Te’o is America’s second-most disliked athlete and it seems puzzling considering he has yet to do anything wrong. He was the one who was duped in the "catfishing" scandal. His supposed friend, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, created Lennay Kekua. Te’o and Kekua had an online relationship and ultimately Kekua “died” from leukemia. The story was inspirational until Deadspin broke the news that Kekua was not real and the girlfriend hoax story became more than just a sports story.
While it seems Te’o was not completely honest with how much he knew, or when he found out Kekua was not real, he was still the victim of a prank orchestrated by Tuiasosopo, so why did he end up in a virtual tie with Armstrong, a now admitted cheater? For Americans, it seems perception is everything. According to Forbes, “the ‘girlfriend with cancer’ angle he’d been playing up since early in the season was too much for someone, it turned out, he’d never even met in person.”
Te’o could repair his image and still has the NFL Draft to look forward to. The rest of Forbes list has some familiar faces. Tiger Woods may have come across as arrogant to some but he was the best golfer in the world at one point and dominated the sport for years. Following an infidelity scandal and years of bad play, Woods is still not a sympathetic figure and is third on the list, appealing to just 19 percent of the public.
Jay Cutler comes in on Forbes’ list at number four, appealing to just 21 percent of America. Some fans may see him as “standoffish” and, as the Te’o case proves, perception is everything and one image can haunt a public figure for a lifetime.
Proving that notion is Metta World Peace, coming in tied with Cutler with just 21 percent appeal but in fifth place. As Ron Artest, the NBA star threw punches at fans in the “Malice in the Palace” brawl but as Metta World Peace, he’s been a quiet and solid contributor to the Los Angeles Lakers with barely any noteworthy incidents. Alex Rodriguez is sixth on Forbes’ list at 22 percent appeal and it is kind of surprising he trails behind Cutler and World Peace. A-Rod has been a bust for the New York Yankees, admitted to doping and is now implicated in another possible doping scandal. Another hip surgery during the offseason has fans looking at the tens of millions of dollars left on his contract as one giant mistake.
Michael Vick will always be a controversial figure, serving jail time for his role in a dog-fighting ring run from his home during his time as an Atlanta Falcon, and despite decent play on the field he only appeals to 23 percent of Americans.
Kurt Busch is in eighth place thanks to his combative nature, while Kobe Bryant and Tony Romo round out the top 10 of America’s Most Disliked Athletes.