Most Hated Sports Movie Characters
The word theatrics is no stranger to the lexicon of sports copy; athletes, and the triumphs and failures they endure, are the perfect emotional kindling for high drama.
So it makes perfect sense that cinema and sports often follow the same formula: A hero takes on a villain, sometimes prevailing, sometimes tragically faltering (or both). And when the hero falters, we don’t hesitate to find fault with the saboteur or incompetent sidekick.
As fans and the audience, we are participants, vicariously experiencing those same ups and downs.
Few would feel compelled to watch a movie, or watch a game, if its defining feature was an absence of conflict.
As a result, sports flicks have had little problem creating some pretty awesome villains —characters that inherently inspire loathing as naturally as a rival’s jersey on a complete stranger or an underachieving blue-chip recruit missing an open layup.
"Us versus them" is a concept as old as civilization itself and the perfect environment when it comes to stoking angst about a specific character in a sports movie—whether it’s a sadistic coach written to cheese us off, or just a really annoying character who transforms a decent film into an awful one.
Here are some of the most hated sports movie characters.
Movie: Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
In Dodgeball, White Goodman, a fat guy turned fitness guru and owner of Globo-Gym, finds himself at odds with the Average Joe’s, mostly because he’s a narcissistic megalomaniac lacking even a shred of self-awareness. Naturally, nothing works out for him in the end because, unlike in the real world, the underdog almost always wins.
Villainous Line: “In 30 days I’ll be bulldozing that sh*t-heap you call a gym into permanent nothingness. And I can only hope that you, and the mongrel race that compromise your membership, are inside it when I do.”
Movie: Jerry Maguire
Avery Bishop is Jerry Maguire’s before he has the epiphany (others classify it as a meltdown) that ultimately costs him his job. Although Bishop oozes confidence and sex appeal, she’s also a cold-hearted, ladder-climbing, insensitive meanie who’s more likely to kick you while you’re down than offer a helping hand. That breakup scene was just brutal.
Villainous Line: “There is a sensitivity thing that some people have. I don’t have it. I don’t cry at movies, I don’t gush over babies, I don’t buy Christmas presents five months early, and I don’t tell the guy who just ruined both our lives, ‘Oh, poor baby.’ But I do love you.”
Movie: Space Jam
Space Jam’s Mr. Swakhammer is cartoonishly villainous for obvious reasons. His plan to capture the Looney Tunes and bring them back to entertain at Moron Mountain, his evil alien amusement park, was the kind of failed plot Dr. Evil would embrace years later. The best thing about a cartoon bad guy is when he loses, the good guys strap him to a rocket and send him flying back into space.
Villainous Line: “Losers! … Choke artists! … Wait’ll I get you back on Moron Mountain!”
As if teeny tiny Rudy Ruettiger didn’t have enough forces working against him in Rudy, the last thing he needed was the type of constant discouragement his brother Frank heaped upon the little man’s shoulders.
Villainous Line: “If you are a part of that team, then my opinion of Notre Dame football just hit the sh*ts!”
Larry Dennit Jr.
Movie: Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
With all due respect, and remember I’m sayin’ with all due respect, Larry Dennit Jr. represents so many things wrong with sports, all wrapped into one. Everything he owns was handed to him by his father. He’s a power-hungry weasel whose God complex is almost as severe as his inferiority complex. He's like a more extreme Kyle Shanahan.
Villainous Line: (Speaking to Carly Bobby as Ricky runs around the track in his underwear again, putting ideas in her head) “You know who’s gonna be No. 1 at Dennit racing? Mr. Cal Naughton, Jr.”
Movie: The Fighter
Although his brother Dicky Eklund is a semi-delusional crack addict, there’s no one more damaging to protagonist Micky Ward in The Fighter than his own mother, Alice Ward. She’s terrible as a manager, constantly combative with Micky’s girlfriend, Charlene, and completely blind when it comes to Dicky’s troubles.
Villainous Line: “We’re not talking about his trainer, sweetheart. We’re talking about his manager. That’s me!”
Movie: Rookie of the Year
As the wretched wannabe stepdad/manager of Henry Rowengartner in Rookie of the Year, Jack Bradfield was maniacally scheming while Chet “Rocket” Steadman moved in on his territory. Just when he thought he closed a deal that would send Henry to the Yankees, he got punched in the face and dumped.
Villainous Line: "Henry's been sold to the Yankees!"
Movie: Bring It On
Check your conscious at the door, ladies. Big Red did what she needed to do to turn the Rancho Carne Toros into a championship squad, which included snaking all their routines from the East Compton Clovers.
Her thieving ways came back to haunt the squad, who had to deal with the fallout, and Big Red only comes back to tell poor Torrance Shipman what a nightmare from hell she’s been as captain.
Villainous Line: “Don’t be so naive, Torrance. Look, the truth is I was a real leader, OK? I did what I had to do to win nationals. And ever since I handed the reins over to you, you’ve run my squad straight into the ground! If I made any mistake as a squad leader, it wasn’t borrowing cheers. It was announcing you as my successor.”
Movie: Jerry Maguire
Sports agent Bob Sugar is an unapologetically loathsome human being. He’ll smile to your face, but the guy is a predator that can smell blood in the water from a mile away. His honesty is the only thing that makes Sugar slightly more redeemable than some of the other characters in Jerry Maguire. He doesn’t like stabbing people in the back because he can’t savor their reaction.
Villainous Line: “It’s not ‘show friends.’ It’s ‘show business.’”
Coach Wolf "The Dentist" Stansson
Movie: D2: The Mighty Ducks
Maybe he’s not the meanest person in Iceland, but Wolf “The Dentist” Stansson is certainly in the discussion—even as a fictional character. Ultimately he’s just another speed bump for those inexplicably unstoppable Ducks, but the man who earned his nickname because of all the teeth he knocked out as a player was the best adversary of the series.
Villainous Line: “Team USA’s going down, that’s where you’re going. … What happened to freedom of speech? Isn’t this America?”
Movie: The Karate Kid
Johnny Lawrence was such a fantastically over-the-top super villain that you technically have to hate him, at least on some level. Even though there has been some reconsideration of the character in recent years (like, for example, that perhaps he was just misunderstood), he'll always be someone we love to hate.
Villainous Line: (As he hands Daniel an application for the All-Valley Tournament) “Here. You’ll need to fill this out and send it in, OK? Just so they’ll know where to claim the body.”
Movie: Major League
In Major League, the Indians team assembled by owner Rachel Phelps was selected for the sole purpose of losing as many games as possible—the goal being to drop attendance to a level low enough to allow her to break the lease in Cleveland and move the franchise to Miami. Everything she does is aimed at making things worse for the team, which thankfully responds in kind.
Villainous Line: "Maybe the problem is…we’re coddling these guys too much. Yeah!"
Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg
Movie: Blades of Glory
In a movie with surprisingly few truly likable characters, scheming incestuous siblings Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg definitely stand apart from the rest. Plotting to take down Chazz Michael Michaels and Jimmy MacElroy is one thing, but they save their worst for poor sister Katie.
Fairchild: “Two men skating together? And in our division, no less! Why, Stranz? Why is God singling us out to the greatest suffering the world has ever known?”
Stranz: “I don’t know, sis. Those two are just a couple of freaks.”
Fairchild: “Yeah, and the media loves freaks.”
Movie: Rocky IV
With the U.S. and Soviet Union still locked in the Cold War, Rocky Balboa’s rival in Rocky IV could not have been any more perfect for the times. Ivan Drago was an Olympic gold medalist and amateur boxing champion who pulled double duty as an officer in the Soviet Army. He’s massive and mean, and he speaks in comically ominous one-liners.
Villainous Line: “I can not be defeated. I beat all man. Someday, I will be a real champion. If he dies, he dies.”
Maggie Fitzgerald's Family
Movie: Million Dollar Baby
After a sucker punch from an opponent leaves her a quadriplegic, amateur boxer Maggie Fitzgerald lays in a hospital room thinking she has nothing left to live for. She’s proven right when her wretched family shows up with a lawyer, after visiting Disneyland, with dollar signs in their eyes. Maggie’s mother repeatedly jabs a pen in her mouth, her only concern to secure Maggie’s signature and her assets. When she doesn't comply, they storm out. It's pretty horrifying stuff.
Villainous Line: “You sign that paper and take care of your family the way your daddy would’ve wanted you to.”
Frank and Keith Cushman
Movie: Jerry Maguire
Ah yes, Keith "my word is stronger than oak" Cushman and his hotshot son Frank. These guys are verifiable proof that the devil you know (Bob Sugar) is better than the devil you don't.
Villainous Line: (In response to Jerry begging him to say they didn’t sign with Bob Sugar) “We signed an hour ago. You were in the lobby with the black fella.”
Coach Bud Kilmer
Movie: Varsity Blues
Unapologetically mean and unforgivably irresponsible with the health of his players, West Canaan High’s coach Bud Kilmer ruled the Coyotes with an iron fist for decades. That’s when a little free-thinking pissant by the name of Jonathan Moxon came in and single-handedly ended his reign of terror.
Villainous Line(s): “You got to be the dumbest smart kid I know.”
“Your daddy was a no-talent p***y, but at least he listened!”
“Cry me a river, you fat f***ing baby!”
Movie: Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
The character of Jean Girard was basically created in a lab by scientists, engineered to be hated by Americans, specifically NASCAR fans.
He’s French. He’s sponsored by Perrier. He’s refreshingly proud of his relationship with his husband Gregory, with whom he plans to develop a currency for dogs and cats to use upon his retirement. He hates Highlander. And the worst thing about Girard? He’s actually an epic race car driver.
Villainous Line: (Explaining to Ricky Bobby that holding hands is a sign of friendship in many countries) “There is nothing sexual about it. Please don’t be worried about the fact that I have an erection. It has nothing to do with you.”
Movie: Happy Gilmore
One of the greatest and most loathsome movie villains ever, in Happy Gilmore, Shooter McGavin starts off as unflappably confident. As the movie goes on he becomes increasingly unglued, particularly as Happy becomes a more formidable foe on the golf course.
Villainous Line: “Ah ah. You lay another finger on me, I burn down the house and piss on the ashes.”
Coach Jack Reilly
Movie: The Mighty Ducks
Coach Jack Reilly is the worst of the worst, which is really saying something on this list. Not only is he a fundamentally terrible person whose pop-collared priorities are completely out of whack, he’s entrusted with the care and teaching of impressionable young kids. Look what he did to a young Gordon Bombay—that guy was never the same.
Villainous Line: “Why’d you turn against me, Gordon? For six years, I taught ya how to skate. I taught ya how to score. I taught ya how to go for the “W!” You could have been one of the greats. And now look at yourself. You’re not even a has-been. You’re a never-was.”