The Biggest Sore Losers in Sports
It's awful—it ignites all those raw, instinctual emotions that managed to survive man's transformation from fearsome hunter-gatherers to mobile-phone perusing drinkers of lattes.
Losing means someone else is better than you. That despite your best effort and innate talents, you failed. Losing unites aspects of our humanity that otherwise seem completely unrelated.
Like teenage crushes and SEC football—getting dumped for some other chump feels a lot like watching your team get stomped by their hated rival.
Despite this fact, we expect people to take their medicine and respect the result.
Nobody likes a sore loser in sports because it ruins one of the greatest and fun elements of playing or just being a fan—being on the winning side.
Being a sore loser craps on the winner's moment in the sun—and that moment is precious because that winner was undoubtedly a loser at some point. And if you elevate it to the professional level, then the expectations for decorum and respect are even higher.
Yet, losing stinks.
There will always be people who succumb to the white hot fury of being the loser—some more than others. When some of the biggest and/or most well-respected names are proceeded by "sore loser," it usually makes headlines.
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant took an excessive amount of heat in October 2013 for a sideline “tirade” during a dramatic loss against the Lions.
A “tirade” that turned out to be anything but the toxic, cancerous spectacle it was initially labeled as.
Two months later, however, Bryant caught heat again, but for much more legitimate reasons. After the Cowboys suffered one of the worst second-half collapses in recent memories against the Packers at home in December, he peaced out with 1:21 left in the fourth.
There’s just nothing about leaving a game early that sits well; not with teammates and certainly not with the media.
Ara Abrahamian, Swedish Olympian
At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Swedish Greco-Roman wrestler Ara Abrahamiam lost his semifinal match to Italy’s Andrea Minguzzi. And he was less than pleased, to say the least.
The fact that Abrahamiam went on to win the bronze medal was of no solace to him as he had to be restrained from physically attacking the judges. It was quite a scene.
Abrahamiam continued his hissy fit right through the medal ceremony, when he removed his bronze from around his neck and tossed it on the ground.
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
After being suspended for three games for an illegal hit on an opponent in January 2012, Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin pulled the ultimate "taking my ball and going home" stunt.
Ovi made a show of publicly declining appearing in the NHL All-Star game, citing concerns about being a “distraction” and saying he didn’t “deserve” to be there because of the suspension.
While his stated reasoning was supposed to sound admirable, the tit for tat punitive nature of his decision was more than apparent.
Hope Solo, U.S. Women's Soccer
U.S. women’s soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo has demonstrated her sore loserness (what…that’s a word?) on a couple of high profile occasions now.
The first was after being eliminated from ABC’s Dancing with the Stars in 2011.
The lumbering and awkward (on the dance floor) Solo actually survived on the show much longer than she should’ve before finally being eliminated one week short of the season finale. She was visibly angry and refused the traditional media blitz in the following days.
Eight months later at the 2012 Olympics in London, Solo again demonstrated her stunningly thin skin when she lashed out at former teammate Brandi Chastain, who worked as an analyst for NBC, for commenting on her play. Which apparently she had no right doing until, as Solo tweeted, she got “more educated.”
Jim Schwartz, Buffalo Bills
When former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz took the helm of the much-maligned NFL franchise in 2009, surely he knew losing games was kind of Detroit's thing.
Obviously, his job was to make winning the Lions' thing, but even the most committed optimist would realize losing games was a distinct possibility. And from the get-go, Schwartz made it clear that his face, mind and emotions were not compatible with the inevitable Lions' slide backward after lurching forward.
Every bone-headed interception, ill-timed penalty, questionable call and just plain old bad play sent the man into a contorting ball of rage—culminating in the famous "handshake" freak-out after losing to Jim Harbaugh's 49ers in 2011.
Belen Jesuit School
In May 2013 at the Florida state water polo championship, Ft. Lauderdale’s St. Thomas Aquinas high school bested Miami’s Belen Jesuit School in what was described as a “contentious” match.
The bad blood between the schools was not left in the pool that day.
After the match, athletes from both schools lined up for the traditional handshake, but one kid from Belen bucked tradition. Instead of offering a hand to shake, he offered up both hands and used them to push another guy into the pool.
Players from both schools then became involved in a very short-lived poolside scrum before cooler heads prevailed and the shenanigans came to a close. Several players from Belen personally apologized to their opponents that day, including the guy who got pushy.
Amar'e Stoudemire, New York Knicks
In the 2012 NBA playoffs, the Knicks were bullied, bruised and beaten up on by the Heat.
New York went down 0-3 to Miami in the series, barely squeaked by with a win in Game 4 and then quietly succumbed to their inevitable demise in Game 5.
The Knicks weren’t helped in Game 3 by the loss of Amar’e Stoudemire, who was out with an injury he brought entirely on himself. And I do mean entirely.
Frustrated by his team’s poor play in the series, Stoudemire took his anger out on a poor unsuspecting fire extinguisher after Game 2.
Stoudemire was treated by paramedics and team doctors for a severe laceration on the inside palm of his left hand that required stitches. It gives a whole new meaning to the term sore loser (See what I did there?).
Antonio Smith, Houston Texans
Fresh off a 10-game losing skid in December 2013, Texans defensive end Antonio Smith had a pretty interesting explanation for how his terrible team could’ve possible lost to a team that went on to play in the AFC Championship.
After Tom Brady passed for over 250 yards in the second half of the game and orchestrated five scoring drives, Smith said, “Either teams are spying on us or scouting us…I don’t know what it is. It was things that they had never done before out here. It just seems miraculous to me.”
Win or lose, people seem to find a reason to bring up Spygate when it comes to the Patriots.
On one hand, it’s fair because it happened. On the other hand, Smith probably didn’t consider it “miraculous” in the same way when the Jaguars beat them a week later.
Marcos Baghdatis, Tennis
Cyprian tennis pro Marcos Baghdatis made headlines at the 2012 Australian Open when he treated four innocent rackets like Joe Pesci's Nicky Santoro in Casino; except their only crime being the equipment of choice for a sore loser.
Baghdatis was upset by 21st seed Stanislas Wawrinka in three sets at the tournament, and instead of accepting his fate with grace, the furious player sulked to his bench and began destroying rackets.
The San Francisco 49ers
Niners coach Jim Harbaugh isn’t the most gracious of losers—something that, apparently, most of his players have decided to emulate. Unfortunately, it’s not one of his more admirable qualities.
After losing in dramatic fashion to the division rival Seahawks in the NFC Championship recently, seven of the eight 49ers players invited to the Pro Bowl declined the invitation.
Sjinkie Knegt, Dutch Olympian
At the ISU European Short Track Championships in January 2014, Dutch speedskater Sjinkie Knegt was extremely displeased about losing the 5,000-meter to Russian Victor Ahn.
And he’s not particularly adept at hiding his feelings. Instead of smiling and nodding like losers at awards shows, Knegt went balls to the wall with a double-bird salute.
Serena Williams, Tennis
As the reigning top women's tennis player in the world and unabashed superstar of the sport, Serena Williams rarely finds herself in the position of loser after a match—much less being the center of the media's attention for any other reason besides dishing comments about her victory.
But if the those few occasions when it has happened are any indication, then it's not unreasonable to assume that Williams will handle the next loss...horribly.
In 2011, she fell to Samantha Stosur in the singles final of the U.S. Open and during the match Williams directed her ire toward chair umpire Eva Asderaki.
Going on a good ol' fashioned, profanity-laced freak-out, the tirade resulted in a $2,000 fine and zero apologies from Williams.
Byun Jong Il, South Korean Olympian
South Korean boxer Byun Jong Il completely broke down at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul after being very fairy penalized for head-butting his opponent.
He had been warned repeatedly about leading with his head and was deducted a point in each of the first two rounds.
At some point in the match, Jong had simply had enough and decided to put himself in timeout. A very extended timeout.
Jong took a seat on the mat and sat with his head in his hands for over an hour. Eventually they just turned off the lights and left him alone to sulk.
Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
Patriots coach Bill Belichick is absolutely one of the sorest losers in sports.
Perhaps it’s because he’s just not used to losing. He has one of the highest winning percentages of any coach in NFL history. Not getting accustomed to losing is a luxury most football coaches don’t have.
Belichick has a tendency to sulk after losses, blowing off the media and deflecting blame.
Most recently he called out Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker, a former Patriot, for what he (and he alone) deemed as an illegal hit on Aqib Talib during the AFC Championship.
His snippy comments about Welker prompted a number of critical headlines from the Boston sports media. Boston.com’s Eric Wilbur summed it up nicely with, “In the end, Bill Belichick proves he’s a sore loser.”
Angel Matos, Cuban Olympian
At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Cuban Taekwondo competitor Angel Matos used his martial arts skill set in a way which traditionally doesn’t fly outside the world of…say…the WWE.
During a match, Matos was knocked to the mat by his opponent and was disqualified from the bronze-medal match after the referee called a technical error for failing to get up in the short time allotted.
Matos went Chuck Norris on the referee with a roundhouse kick to his grill. He was later banned for life from competition by the World Taekwondo Federation.