Cry-O-Meter: Which Sport Has the Most Sensitive Athletes?

Laura Depta@lauradeptaFeatured ColumnistJuly 18, 2014

Cry-O-Meter: Which Sport Has the Most Sensitive Athletes?

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    Professional athletes are sometimes seen as rough, tough and emotional walls of stone—but they can be sensitive too. It takes a real man to cry!

    Whether it’s breaking down from sheer emotion or whining to a referee, athletes often display feelings of sadness, frustration or just overwhelming emotion.

    Hey, I get it: Sports are emotional. It’s part of why we all love them so much. I don’t know what it is that makes some athletes more likely to show their emotions than others, but there does seem to be a pattern by sport.

    Soccer’s crop of softies was just on international display at the World Cup in Brazil. Roger Federer quietly wept after his Wimbledon defeat. Even the NBA MVP got emotional talking about his teammates and mother.

    Today, we rank 10 major sports from least sensitive to most. Points will be awarded on a scale from one-to-10 for both crying and whining. The total will make up the overall Cry-O-Meter score.

    Excluded are tears resulting from injury—that’s just mean.


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    Big surprise: You're not going to find a lot of criers in rugby.

    There was a hilarious flop in rugby recently—courtesy of Simaika Mikaele of the Samoa Sevens, as seen above—but that one seemed to provoke more laughter than any other emotion.

    During the 2011 Rugby World Cup, Alejandro Campo was captured weeping during the playing of Argentina’s national anthem. And some digging reveals a rugby player by the name of Richie McCaw covering his face at a press conference.

    But that’s pretty much it, folks. Breaking news of the day: Rugby players don't cry.

    Crying: 1

    Whining: 2

    Total: 3


2 of 10

    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    They say there’s no crying in baseball. Well, guess what: They’re pretty much right. Or at least, the crying is kept private.

    Red Sox manager John Farrell told The Boston Globe, “You know what, some might want to hold their emotions till they get out in their own personal moment.” One notable exception comes to us from Wade Boggs after his 1986 Red Sox lost the World Series.

    There is whining in the form of intermittent arguments with umpires, but even those have been curtailed due to instant replay.

    We did see Mariano Rivera cry on the mound last year. But when the greatest closer to ever live is taken off the mound for the last time by his longtime friends and teammates...well, that’s a moment worthy of a tear or two.

    Crying: 2

    Whining: 2

    Total: 4


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    On the whole, golf is a pretty calm game—with just a few minor exceptions.

    When Bubba Watson won his first Masters in 2012, he couldn’t contain his emotions on the course. He has even talked about his tendency to tear up to the media.

    While Watson is comfortable showing his emotions, Tiger Woods is more the crybaby type. He has a famous dislike for media interviews—a fact he is not careful to hide.

    He often lets his frustration show on the golf course as well. At the British Open, Woods halted mid-swing to curse at some overzealous photographers.

    Crying: 3

    Whining: 2

    Total: 5


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    There’s not a whole lot of crying in hockey, either. But there is some, although it’s generally reserved for particularly emotional moments.

    When veteran center Mike Modano retired after over 20 years in the NHL, he definitely shed a few tears at his press conference.

    Even the great Wayne Gretzky cried while announcing his move from Edmonton to Los Angeles.

    Boone Jenner was captured openly sobbing after Canada’s loss to Russia in the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships.  

    Not to be ignored, however, are the crybabies. King of the whiners Sidney Crosby has inspired countless Photoshop projects with his whiny ways.

    On a 2013 flight from Pittsburgh to Boston, the Jet Blue pilot asked over the intercom if a crying baby on board was in fact Sidney Crosby.

    Crying: 3

    Whining: 3

    Total: 6


5 of 10

    MMA is another tough-guy sport that you probably in which you wouldn’t expect a lot of crying. Then again, these guys are regularly beaten to a bloody pulp—that would definitely make me want to cry.

    Losing is another thing that sort of makes you want to cry—just ask Forrest Griffin. After a 2006 defeat at the hand of Keith Jardine, Griffin sat in his corner and cried.

    Or ask Tito Ortiz. He has a history of press conference crying. Or ask Shinya Aoki, who cried backstage after a loss to Gilbert Melendez.

    There’s not just crying, though. There’s whining too. After some recent media trash talk between Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold, Bisping told MMAJunkie Radio:

    So then I apologized, and he still won’t stop whining on about it. You used the word d--k, so I’m going to use the word b---h, getting on like a little b---h that’s on his period, and I’m sick of hearing about it.


    Crying: 4

    Whining: 3

    Total: 7


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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Sometimes the guys who seem the toughest are really the most emotional—big teddy bears, if you will.

    Such is the case with a few boxers. Oliver McCall, for example, became so distraught during a 1997 fight with Lennox Lewis, that he started crying, refused to fight and forced the referee to stop the bout.

    Floyd Mayweather has also been known to turn on the waterworks, as in a particularly emotional display when upon announcing his “retirement” in 2006.  

    In 2009, Chris Arreola lost his WBC heavyweight title and didn’t take it too well. The 6’4” big man couldn’t hide his devastation even as he tried to mask his face with a glove.  

    Crying: 5

    Whining: 2

    Total: 7


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    Andrew Brownbill/Associated Press

    Tennis players aren’t so much whiners, but man do they get emotional. Roger Federer, who has given us several examples over the years, most recently cried one single tear after losing to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon.

    But it’s not just him. Djokovic, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and even Serena Williams have all let the tears flow on the court.

    Tennis players aren’t even trying to hide it. In fact, some are downright theatrical. Check out this one from Vera Zvonareva and Rafa’s full layout on the court.

    Crying: 8

    Whining: 1

    Total: 9


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    Man, some NFL players are big babies. From contract holdouts to acting all shocked about a non-call on pass interference, the whining is high here.

    Guess what: The crying is too. Remember when Terrell Owens loved his quarterback so much that he cried while defending him at a press conference?

    Remember when Brett Favre and Hines Ward both teared up during their respective retirement announcements?

    Remember when Knowshon Moreno shed the world’s largest tears during the national anthem?

    Remember when Randy Moss complained so much that Brad Childress cut him?

    Alright, I’ll stop the bleeding, but you get the point.

    Crying: 5

    Whining: 5

    Total: 10


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    Reed Saxon/Associated Press

    Tears of heartbreak, tears of joy, flop city and referee arguing—all this and more can be found in an NBA arena near you.

    Following a 2011 loss to the Chicago Bulls, Erik Spoelstra told reporters that several members of his Miami Heat cried in the locker room after the game. 

    Kevin Durant shed tears after losing in the 2012 NBA Finals. Then he cried again during his emotional 2014 NBA MVP speech.

    Jordan cried on his first championship trophy.

    Marco Belinelli became the first Italian player to win an NBA championship and shed tears of joy.

    So uh, no, NBA players are not generally afraid to show their emotions.

    Crying: 6

    Whining: 7

    Total: 13


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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    If there is one sport with a higher concentration of floppers than basketball, it’s international soccer.

    And oh man: Google “soccer cry” and see what happens. These dudes are emotional.

    Athlon Sports put together a good compilation of photos to illustrate my point, but surely you don’t need much proof.

    David Beckham cried the retirement cry. Neymar cried out of love for Brazil. Italian players fell to the grass after a heartbreaking 2012 loss to the Spaniards.  

    Ronaldo…well, Ronaldo is Ronaldo.

    Crying: 7

    Whining: 8

    Total: 15


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