Athletes need us more than we need them (I may be an exception). Make sure you demand the most from your favorite players.
We’ve entered the black hole of the sports calendar. The Olympics saved us this year, but this is normally a period for reflection, planning, and complete and utter boredom. I’m going to pass some time, specifically three minutes of your time, by sharing how I choose my favorite athletes in the four major sports.
If you consider NASCAR one of those four (a reasonable argument), then I will quickly inform you that I only know the names of a few drivers, that Jimmie Johnson is on a tear similar to Michael Jordan’s early ‘90’s run, and that Toyota drivers are not permitted to pit until their gas pedal issues are resolved. That’s the extent of my NASCAR knowledge. I digress.
Wait, you actually have standards for your favorite players? Why yes, yes I do. In fact, I have specific criteria that must be met. Don’t laugh. If I’m investing my time and hitching my fan trailer to someone, I need to know he’s up to the task. (Special thanks to my cousin Wayne who shared his input and inspired a future “athletes we like to hate” post coming soon.) Here’s my checklist:
- Are they too cool to try/care? If so, then I don’t bother. This is like girls that smoke (when I was single, of course). Regardless of how attractive/rich/beautiful she was, smoking was not negotiable. Likewise, acting too cool to try/care is not negotiable. DeSean Jackson is flirting with joining Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Jose Reyes, Manny Ramirez, Amare Stoudemire, and Richard Jefferson in the “too fly to try” crew. Trying/caring only in big games or when the score is close doesn’t count either. It’s all or nothing. I want guys diving after loose balls, sacrificing their bodies, and giving 110% despite the scoreboard. (Notice I couldn’t come up with any hockey players? Effort is what hockey is all aboot, err about.)
- Is there enough talent? While I don’t need Michael Jordans, I do need to win games. A fourth string cornerback can work his tail off on special teams, but if he can’t shut down the opposition’s top receiver his effort is irrelevant. Effort is enough for his mom to love him. Not enough to be my favorite player.
- Would I want to be his teammate? All personal preferences on this one. I can’t pledge my allegiance to a whiner (oops, sorry, didn’t see you there Cindy Crosby). Nor will I root for a “love me some me” egomaniac to succeed (how are you today, Terrell Owens). Finally, it would be impossible for me to support someone whose teammates can’t stand him (here’s to you, Wilt, Barry Bonds, yester year’s Kobe, and yet again, TO).
- Does he have “IT”? “IT” can’t be taught or acquired. You either have it or you don’t. Tom Brady has it, Donovan McNabb does not. “It” is that uncanny ability to rise to the occasion. To overcome obstacles. To hoist a team on your shoulders and carry them to victory, or more importantly, championships. Derek Jeter, Martin Brodeur (shaking my head), Kobe Bryant, Ben Roethlisberger (I just threw up a little) and Dwyane Wade have this.
- For who? For what? Seriously, Ricky Watters would like to know. I’ll defer to Aaron Rowand for this one. Take it away, Aaron. “For who? My teammates. For what? To win.” Well said.
That’s the current criteria. “For who? For what?” was the latest addition – added in 2007. The list is always changing, so I’ll update it as necessary. Remember, ask not what you can do for your favorite athlete, ask what your favorite athlete must do for you.
Who are my favorite players? Glad you asked…