I enjoy getting my “like” on, both in life and in sports. I’d much rather spend my time liking on something than hating. I know it sounds intuitive, but just take a second to think about the people you know that love being a hater. We all know know a few. There’s the guy that has never, ever said that he enjoyed a movie. There’s a girl that will sit at a bar and complain viciously about every other girls. There’s a lot of hating, and there’s plenty in sports (see Barry Bonds, , Curt Schilling), but I’m endeavoring to make my fan experience a Hate Free Zone.
Fate seems to make it easy for me to be a Liker. Thanks to fantasy football, I’ve developed an affinity for enough players that I can watch any game and be compelled by some personal story. Even though I grew up with (and love) the Yankees, the Red Sox are filled with charitable and affable fellows. And John Daly aside, pretty much every golfer is educated, funny and gives a great interview. Basketball players make it tough for me to like them (Kobe Bryant, please just shut up), but I still find enough class acts to enjoy the sport at least conceptually.
To prove my point, what follows is a list of athletes across numerous sports and the reason or reasons why I like them. It really doesn’t take much to make my like a player, as you will soon see.
Tim Duncan (Basketball, Spurs) – His nickname, The Big Fundamental, is about as scary as his street cred. Sure, he’s got a tattoo. But it’s of a wizard. He also hosts a celebrity Bowl-a-thon. It is impossible to not like this guy, his love of video games or his affinity for Wolverine of the X-men.
Chad Johnson (Football, Bengals) – The guy is self-aware. He knows that hiswill get him in trouble, but he does them anyway because it makes the game more fun. It’s never about him, even when it’s about him. And he’s a great fantasy player. Also, he just raced against a horse.
Rafael Nadal (Tennis) – This article. He’s now my favorite tennis player because of this article.
Mike Lowell (Baseball, Red Sox) – Mike Lowell hates Fidel Castro. That’s not terribly shocking, considering he is descended from Cuban refugees. But the man went on the record to say that he hopes he dies, citing that Castro killed his family. You don’t generally expect an athlete to go Inigo Montoya on somebody. Yet he did, and for that he shall have my unwavering respect.
Tiger Woods (Golf) – You can’t be a fan of golf without being a fan of Tiger. The man is the game. I followed him since he won the Masters in ’97, basking in the success of a man that had brought the golf to the forefront of American sports consciousness. But the thing that made me a full-blown Liker was. He nailed it on the second take.
Tie Domi (Hockey, Rangers and Maple Leafs) – The man is built like I am (short, and a cube) yet was the most feared player on the ice for the better part of his career. I’m pretty sure that he could kill a man in real life and only get a five minute major. Bless that merciless man.
As I said, it really doesn’t take much. Curtis Granderson writes a blog and I like him too. Jorge Posada bats without gloves and I’d like him for that even if he wasn’t a Yankee. I like Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals because he has a nice smile. It’s easy to be a Hater in this world, but it’s fun as all hell to be a Liker.