If you’re a professional athlete, there is something you should know. Fans are an easy group to please. I know that’s counter intuitive since we seem like such an unruly bunch, but we WANT to like you. Sure, we’ll nitpick every lost down, every turnover, every blown save, and any missed free throw you have. We know that’s obnoxious. We’re fans and we overreact, but you know what? We compensate by over-forgiving. As long as you come out next time, look like you learned something, and pretend that you actually care about us, then we’ll forgive quickly and move on. When you’re on our team, you’re one of us, and we want you to succeed.
Saying that, we can turn on you. We don’t like to do it, but under a special set of circumstances we will. Sometimes professional athletes make it hard for us to like them… you do such dumb things that it makes it impossible for us to cheer. Yes, we over-forgive, but fans have our limits. If you want to make us mad for a day, do something dumb on the field, but if you want to permanently disgust us do any of these things:
Be apathetic. Athletes should know something about fans: we can take a well fought loss. We know you’re not going to win every game (well… most of us know that – I’m lookin’ at you BCS), however, nothing drives us more crazy than seeing players show up to training camp out of shape, players dogging it up the court, or apathetic answers at a press conference after a mediocre effort. Lack of accountability and apathy in defeat make us want to tear our eyelashes out.
Make fun of people with disfigurements, skin conditions, or illnesses that they can’t control. Your fans are people, and people are imperfect. Any time you decide to make fun of large swaths of humans, think twice. Ask yourself a simple question: did this person choose to be like this (lawyers, circus clowns, guys that ride around college campuses on unicycles), or were they born with the condition (mental disabilities, diseases, disfigurements). If they fall into the former, let ’em have it. Those guys chose their path, they can defend their choices, but if they are a member of the latter group, hold your tongue. You make fun of that group and you’re just being mean (even if it is in private).
Sincerely lie to people that want to believe you. If the steroid era in baseball has ingrained one thing upon young fans, it’s this: if you played during that time and have arms that are 15x any normal person’s, then we assume that you probably had a needle sticking out of you at some point. Yes, we’re annoyed by the whole steroid thing, but you know what we’re more annoyed with? You and your pin-cushion buddies thinking we’re idiots. We have eyes and your rookie card. We know what size your head used to be before you started jacking home-runs by the dozen. Fans don’t like steroids, but we understand that it happened. Now quit lying to us. Stop using them, and if you get caught then tell the truth and we’ll all and get over it together. Trust me… at this point, young fans don’t really care… until you lie. If you refuse to testify to congress, you act insolent after breaking a sacred record, or continue to tell us that you’re clean after we see the failed tests, then we’ll cast you off.
Hurt animals. Just don’t do it. It’s really gross.
Act mean to service staff. I worked on Wall Street. It’s a place where people put a lot of time and effort into appearances. At times it’s difficult to tell who is sincerely nice, and who’s just really good at feigning it. There’s one sure fire way to separate the two though. Go out to dinner with a person. People that tip well, smile at waiters, and that treat hostesses with respect are nice people. People that short-change wait staff, treat busboys like they’re idiots, or scream about the food are mean. If a person looks for opportunities to put down the perceived little guy then they are jerks in other facets of their life (take note ladies… the same can be said for the guys you date).
Do the same stupid things enough times that people stop feeling bad for you. It is physically impossible for fans to feel bad for any professional athlete who A) has a multi-seven figure contract, and B) repeatedly gets in trouble in a strip club/casino/night club. If you can’t stay away from these establishments and continue to jeopardize your career because you love being in that atmosphere so much, I have a solution! Build a strip club/casino/night club in your basement! If it’s at your house then you can make it rain, shoot yourself in the leg, or cheat at cards all you want… and we don’t have to hear about it.
Complain about your money publicly. There’s almost nothing we hate more than hearing millionaires squabble about money. It’s why we loath the impending NBA lockout. Fans across this country are fighting to make ends meet (especially in this recession). We’re making payments on underwater mortgages, shelling out for kid’s increasing college tuition, and paying for gas to take us to and from our boring jobs. We watch sports as an escape from daily life, and the last thing any of us want to see when we turn on the TV are people who get paid to play a game complain about their million dollar paychecks. It’s just tacky.
So there they are: the basics of how to disgust fans. Remember, we want to love you… we beg for great players to be great people, but if you do want us to hold up nasty signs, boo you, or write articles about shipping you off to foreign leagues, then this handbook could be helpful. Do any one of these things for a long enough time, and we’ll be disgusted by you. Guaranteed.