Welcome to part two of a five-part feature on The 25 Worst Fans in Sports!
Thanks to everyone for their feedback to yesterday’s part one. In particular, much love to those who actually sent in a good amount of shockingly positive comments with regards to the first five inclusions. I’m pretty sure any agreeing with my readers will be ending soon, though.
Ah, but first, here are the first five inductees to the list of bad fans:
25.) San Francisco 49ers
24.) Toronto Raptors
23.) American Olympic Viewers
22.) New York Islanders
21.) Florida Marlins
We continue our countdown to number one with”¦
#20-Anna Kournikova/Maria Sharapova Fans
As the saying goes, “six of one, half-dozen of the other”. Oh, wait, Sharapova has actually won something (Wimbledon 2004). Yeah, that’s why you like her. From 15-year-old freshman to 55-year-old not-so-fresh men, the overt obsession with these two is equal parts understandable, uncomfortable and, at it’s core, everything American.
Did you know that Sharapova is now the highest-paid female athlete in the world (Forbes, June 2005)? She won one grand slam tournament and raked in nearly $20 million in endorsements. And, did anyone else notice how the fans and the media seemingly couldn’t wait to find someone”¦anyone”¦to replace the, um, “less ideal” image of Serena or Venus Williams from the U.S. serve-and-volley scene?
But, again”¦at least Sharapova’s won something. Kournikova’s claim to fame is topping out at #8 in the world rankings and bringing the tabloid train of thought to the tennis court. OK, she wasn’t the first to do that, but she damn sure was the first to actually embrace the style over substance stance to such a dizzying degree.
And, her fans didn’t care. To their credit, true tennis fans could see right through her, but they were outnumbered by those sticking up her Sports Illustrated swimsuit spread or the ones wondering who Anna was dating”¦this week.
These fans are the people who are responsible for US Magazine at the U.S. Open, kids.
#19-Sacramento Kings Fans
Have you ever been to Sacramento? Even the locals can attest that the capital of California is really a one-horse cow-town. Earlier this decade, the city seemed to swim in this image during the Kings’ rancorous “rivalry” with the Los Angeles Lakers by bringing cowbells to the Arco Arena.
And, the chances are if you’re bringing livestock jewelry and accessories to an Arena”¦you’re going to make this list.
Hell, in May of 1998 even Chris Webber didn’t want to play in front of these yahoos, threatening not to report after the Wizards traded him out of Washington DC. But, Sacto ignored this slight and supported him, anyway. Through seven mostly superficial seasons, Kings fans continued to clap for Chris Webber, before finally opening their eyes to his inherent ineffectiveness about 10 years after the rest of world realized it.
But, they were understandably blinded to C-Webb, since they had to make time to endorse Vlade Divac. Anyone who finds Vlade’s flopping-to-draw-the-foul performances anything but, well, foul”¦is going to make this list. And, for the love of God, will you people stop talking about the Lakers like they’re your rivals?
If you’re going to use that word, then, damn it, use it by making those exaggerated “quote” thingies with your fingers. The Kings have never won a postseason series from the Lakers. Now, in terms that even Kings fans can understand”¦that makes you their b*tch.
We’d also accept “Queens”, if Shaq hadn’t beat us to it.
#18-Oscar De La Hoya Fans
There are women out there who know sports.
And, then there are fans of Oscar De La Hoya.
It’s not because he’s a great puncher (he’s not). It’s not because he’s a refreshingly real personality amongst the phalanx of fakes across the pugilistic landscape (he’s not).
It’s because he’s got a pretty face.
These are mothers, daughters and wives who lose their minds at the thought of this 140 pound man-boy stripping down to his Speedos at the weigh-in. They’ll squeal with piggy delight when he takes off his robe before the fight begins. And, they’ll cry just like their hero, when De La Hoya goes down in defeat and demands an official inquiry to look into his own damn loss.
As you can probably guess, all of this Groupie Luv has gone straight to his head, too.
Why else would he try his hand out in music, if he didn’t think his fans demanded it? The Fox Network fell for his “following”, too, and aired a reality boxing show that didn’t even survive their pathetic prime time lineup.
Enough already. Isn’t it obvious that his free-ranging female fans won’t follow him everywhere? But, the fact that they’ll follow him at all? Que lastima.
#17-New York Yankees Fans
Just one question to all those who preach from the Book of Jeter, pray to Lord Torre and hail King George”¦where were you people in the ’80s?
Ken Phelps, 5th place finishes and the esteemed Ed Whitson”¦don’t act like you don’t remember. But, life for most of these people began in ’96. Yankee fans didn’t start embracing their rich history until the YES Network shoved it down their throats through those cheeseball Yankeeography shows. And, funny how Jeffrey Maier has yet to be profiled. He was a Yankee fan, right?
Now, no one can fault “The Evil Empire” for being so successful in an imperfect economic system. It works for them and it’s up to the other teams to make it work for them. The amazing thing is that their fans will alternately praise the Yankees for “spending money to win”, then act all apoplectic when that $200 million doesn’t buy a championship.
Fast fact: the games are still played between the white lines”¦which reminds me, for a franchise and fanbase so steeped in style and hand-dipped in reverence, you guys seem to have no problem with letting living and breathing legal/moral ambiguities like Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden and Steve Howe into your hearts.
But, it all begins at the top with Yankee fans. Owner George (Big Stein) Steinbrenner was once suspended “for life” for conspiring against then-Yankee Dave Winfield. Only in New York could The Boss turn on one of his own and still be welcomed back with open arms by the pasty masses.
#16-University of Connecticut Women’s Basketball Fans
The next time you and your boys are sitting around the bar and mocking the WNBA, just remember that the 10,000 faithful who fill up Gampel Pavilion from October to April are the sole reason the league continues to take up an inch and a half of agate type on the penultimate page of your local sports section.
Hey, I’m as pro-broad as the next guy, but women’s college hoops is the equivalent of those Junior High JV games that are played in front no one below blood relation.
The fact that Huskies fans have joined forces with East Coast sports sympathizers, ESPN, to create quasi-celebrities out of Rebecca Lobo, Big Moose Wolters, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi is an indictment of how low the bar for athletic achievements has been set.
Since the age of the Equal Rights Amendment, there have been no more than two to four Division I women’s teams each season who had a shot at the championship. Tennessee and U Conn”¦U Conn and Tennessee, but those Huskies fans show up in droves and bump those Sunday afternoon national ratings into the high 0’s/low 1’s (with a frightening 15.0 in and around New England), so America must be clamoring for the same 64-team tournament that the men are afforded.
What? You mean you don’t give a damn? Well, then, who’s writing those laughable “letters to the editor” of Sports Illustrated wondering why the magazine printed the full men’s tournament bracket, while leaving out the ladies? Someone should tell these people that there’s already a place where the women’s game is written on, reviewed and recapped.
It’s called Sports Illustrated for Women and I’m told it’s really a”¦what? SI ceased publication of that mag due to low sales? Wow”¦didn’t see that coming.
Honorable Mention (Tuesday): Throughout the week, I’ll be posting one of the five teams/athletes who didn’t make the Top 25. Visit the Inside Pulse Fan Forums to see today’s inclusion and continue the discussion on The Worst Fans in Sports.
Aaron Cameron writes The Friday Music News Bootleg in Music every”¦uh, Friday and is a senior contributing writer emeritus for IP Sports”¦occasionally. AOL n’ Yahoo IM address: ajcameron13