Americans love their sports and, more importantly, they love their sports stars. Of course, we’ll turn our backs on you in a heartbeat if you cross the line between athletic ability and stupidity. In-game stupidity is one thing, but once an athlete starts displaying questionable behavior off the field/court/ice/etc. then it’s usually game over from a fan’s perspective. However, all the inconvenience of hate mail, on-air/in-print rippings from the media, loss of endorsement deals and reverberating boos during work can be avoided if athletes will just avoid breaking any of the Seven Deadly Sins of Sports Celebrity as identified by the fellas over at East Coast Bias.
Any scandal involving even accusations of racism immediately takes on another level of significance. Sportswriters just love any chance to trot out pages of righteous indignation that race is still an issue in America today.
Examples: Jimmy the Greek, Duke Lacrosse, Kelly Tilghman
Anything Involving Figure Skating
For some reason, figure skating scandals are always bigger than they should be. Maybe it’s because there’s not much else going on in the Winter Olympics or maybe the sports media thinks they can attract some female readership. Whatever the reason, figure skating scandals reach epic proportions very quickly.
Examples: Harding-Kerrigan, Canadian Silver Medalists (the French judge)
Old White Men Having Kinky Sex
The idea that old white men (especially the straight-laced ones) might have interesting sex lives is always a big story. It’s hilarious to think that the guy who reads you the scores during the day is dressing up in drag that night.
Examples: Marv Albert, Pat O’Brien, Max Mosely
Gambling scandals bring with them a degree of seediness. When people think of gambling scandals, there’s always intimations that maybe the mob is involved. Gambling also calls into question the integrity of sports, so people take it very seriously.
Examples: Tim Donaghy, Charles Barkley, Pete Rose, Nikolay Davydenko
Cruelty to Animals
This one caught a lot of people off guard when the Mike Vick dog fighting story broke. People assumed that a scandal involving dogs wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Those people were wrong. Americans love their dogs more than their families, and anyone treating animals badly will quickly become a pariah.
Examples: Mike Vick, Vince Young
Anything Involving Feces
Poop makes a scandal way more interesting. Or maybe disgusting. Or just smelly. Whatever it is, if an athlete is involved with a poop scandal, it will haunt him for the rest of his career.
Examples: Najeh Davenport, Osi Umenyiora
Killing Your White or Pregnant Wife
The granddaddy of them all. If you kill your white or pregnant wife, even if you are acquitted, you’re in trouble.
Examples: OJ Simpson, Rae Carruth
Oh, and don’t forget about blasting your limo driver with a shotgun and then attempting to make the death look like a suicide or attempting to frame your murdered player as a drug dealer in order to cover your own ass.
[East Coast Bias]: Seven Deadly Sins of Sports Celebrity