Brett Favre and LeBron James are names often found as the punchlines of jokes. Mentioning inappropriate pictures or dismal performance on the games ultimate stage, these two can't escape the negative press. People absolutely love to hate these two men. It doesn't matter what they do, people find reasons to hate and criticism them. The American public is obsessed with seeing these men fail.
LeBron James is still being criticized for his sub-par performance in the Finals two months later. The NBA lockout may provide James with a chance to escape some of the heat, but he can't run and hide forever. The haters will return with the NBA season.
Brett Favre is somewhere cutting his lawn in Mississippi, but it's getting to be that time again in the NFL. Training camps will be breaking soon as the games that actually mean something are creeping closer and closer as September devours August. It wouldn't be right if the American public didn't get the "itch" for Favre-watch.
So why are people so obsessed with Favre and James? It's not like they want them to actually win. They couldn't stand to see Favre come back, succeed, and win another Super Bowl ring. And they surely couldn't stand to see James win a title.
It's deeper than that.
The American sports fan loves to see athletes fail. Over and over again. This is the case for Brett Favre. It's also the case for one of the most hated athletes of this generation, LeBron James. The punchline of endless jokes, the two men are ridiculed for their every more, but they both remain hot topics. The American sports fan loves to hate these two.
In the case of LeBron James, no player in the history of sport has received the amount of criticism James takes on a daily basis. He is criticized for his off-court antics, "The Decision" and his disappearing act in important games. On that evening in July, sitting awkwardly with Jim Gray, LeBron made himself the ultimate villain by going on ESPN to inform the world of his decision to join the Miami Heat. Analysts and fans ripped LeBron for going about free agency this way, but who could stay away from the TV in that moment? The program netted over $2 million for the Boys & Girls Club of America.
The 2011 NBA Finals were the second most watched Finals since 2004. It seems everybody was watching, popcorn in hand, ready to rip LeBron for whatever mistake he made. The heat LeBron took after the Finals was so strong that it was almost as if LeBron had lost the Finals rather than the Mavericks had actually won the championship.
As for Brett Favre, everybody knows the story of the man who just couldn't quit and went on to tarnish a legacy with horrible play and inexcusable actions off the field, but nobody could take their eyes off.
From the overtime interception late in the NFC Championship game in 2007, to the failure of the Jets down the stretch, the bonehead interception that cost his team a trip to the Super Bowl in 2009 and the injury-filled season of 2010, Favre has failed over and over again in some of the biggest games in the last five years.
Even after summers of contemplating his playing future and multiple retirements, everybody checks for the latest news regarding Brett Favre. They just have to know if he's coming back for one more year. The man has lied to sports fans and the media endless times, but continues to be the media's go-to story in late August. People want to hear it. They want to see the man come back and fail.
Why do people love to hate these athletes? Maybe it's because of the unreachable expectations we place on these players prematurely. The players then go on to let us down by not reaching these heights.
Before he had even finished high school, the media had coined LeBron James the next Michael Jordan. Now LeBron has been in the league since 2003 and has failed to win a championship. That's not Jordan-esque.
After leading the Packers to a Super Bowl victory in the 1996 season, Favre was going to be the greatest to play the game. After reaching the Super Bowl the next year and never again, it turned out that Favre wasn't the best to play the game.
These men let us down. So we hate them. But in reality, we actually set them up for failure. But it doesn't matter. As long as LeBron is the Finals or Favre is thinking about returning, people will watch. People want to see these two fail repeatedly.
It is fair? No. But is it entertaining? Yes.