There is no question that the two most scrutinized athletes–and maybe public entertainment figures in general–in the past two years are Tiger Woods and LeBron James.
While there are some down in South Beach basking in the superstardom that is LeBron, tuning out the criticism that the rest of the country has to offer, there seems to be an almost universal hatred for Mr. Woods lately.
With Tiger, it all started that fateful November night when news broke that Woods crashed his car into a tree close to his Orlando home. After refusing to give any information to the police, let alone the media, the country was left in confusion and intense speculation on what the real story behind the incident actually was.
Of course, we will never truly know what prompted the crash, or the role his then-wife Elin Nordegren played in debacle. What we did find out was that Tiger had been unfaithful. Like, really unfaithful. Around the block a few times would have been an understatement.
Tiger went around the block, down the street and took a plane to Australia where he picked up a call girl and treated her to dinner and a Tiger ride usually only experienced at a Siegfried and Roy show.
When it comes to LeBron, it almost seems that he was destined for his position atop Santa’s naughty list (except, instead of coal, James wakes up on Christmas morning and opens up a gift-wrapped box containing an endless amount of cars, women and money; also, a bottle of Jack that his agent put in there, just in case LeBron forgot to get his mom a present).
When LeBron announced The Decision to “take his talents to South Beach," leaving his home state and team of the Cleveland Cavaliers to join D-Wade and fellow superstar (pending) Chris Bosh with the flashy, sexy Miami Heat, the fallout was nuclear.
He was labeled a traitor in the greater Cleveland area, with No. 23 jerseys ablaze and stomped on in the street.
Through a series of bonehead comments, all the way from the preseason (“not three, not four, not five…”) to the reminder to us commoners after the NBA Finals concluded that, even though he lost, we still have to return to our pathetic lives with all the same problems and he will still be King, LeBron further isolated himself from the public. We even started to doubt his intentions with his public image.
So the question presents itself: Who should we hate more?
I discuss grievances with both of these athletes with many people, yet these discussions never involve both of them being accounted for in the same breath. It can be said that both of these guys have a core un-fanbase: women with Tiger and Cavs fans with LeBron.
However, the hatred does not stop there. It wasn’t just offended women that gave up on Tiger, but sportscasters, other professionals and pretty much anyone who refused to continue to support a man with as many transgressions that he admitted to committing.
With LeBron leaving his hometown, analysts and most everybody else heralded this move as the end of the hometown hero. What happened to the Cal Ripken Jr.’s and the feel-good story line that every sports journalist wants to exploit?
The actions of Tiger and LeBron do not take anything away from their outstanding abilities as athletes, but it just wasn’t right for them to do what they did. And now, with the recent firing of Tiger’s longtime caddy Steve Williams, the NBA Finals still fresh in our minds, and the NBA lockout reminding us all of the greed that exists in professional sports, neither one of these candidates look to be the front runner in America’s least-hated-of-the-two race.
Some of you may already have an answer for the question asked, but some of you may not have ever even thought about it before. Which one can’t you forgive? Which one do you think cares more about his public image, doing his best to win you back?
Hate them or hate them only a little, Tiger Woods and LeBron James will go down as two of the best athletes that ever played their sports.