EDITOR'S NOTE: With the help of our readers -- THIS MEANS YOU! -- Page 2 intends to determine the winner in the Battle for the Soul of Sports by matching the seven deadly sports sins against the seven heavenly sports virtues in a series of head-to-head duels. Today, Dan Shanoff pits Sports Envy against Sports Love -- here's his take on the latter.
No athlete is universally loved. Coach K is looking for love in all the wrong places when he goes to the Dean Dome; same with Brett Favre in Minneapolis.
That said: When taken as a group, sports fans and media have bestowed an overwhelming amount of love on a particular group of athletes and coaches in sports.
Is it possible to identify the most beloved names in sports? Limiting the scope to current athletes and coaches, there is a hierarchy -- as in Hollywood, there's an A-List, B-List and more.
Where does sports love come from? It's based on a consensus of approval, which itself is usually a function of success and exposure.
Look over the Love List below, from the A-List on down. (Is there a sports-world "D-List" equivalent of, say, self-proclaimed D-lister Kathy Griffin? Perhaps someone as annoyingly ubiquitous as Johnny Damon, or maybe as noisy and talentless as Freddie Mitchell?)
Don't expect to see Barry Bonds, Randy Moss or even someone as seemingly benign as Bill James -- all ubertalents who have inspired as much loathing as love. Polarizing figures make for the best arguments, but that's a debate for another day.
This list is about unconditional love (or at least as close as we can get to it in sports).
And don't forget to take the poll, deciding once and for all which names in each sport get the most love.
A-List of Sports Love
Why He's Loved: He saved the sport
What's Not to Love: Or is he ruining it for everyone else?
|It's Round 2 in Page 2's Battle for the Soul of Sports.|
Why He's Loved: Success plus backstory
What's Not to Love: Critics diss biking
Why He's Loved: He's not a coach
What's Not to Love: AmEx ads in heavy rotation
Why He's Loved: NFL's Iron Man
What's Not to Love: Two words: Playoff picks
Why's He Loved: Even keel in Bronx Zoo
What's Not to Love: Tactically sluggish
B-List of Sports Love
Here's the fight card for Page 2's Battle for the Soul of Sports:
Round 1: Pride vs. Humility
Round 2: Envy vs. Love
Round 3: Anger vs. Kindness
Round 4: Sloth vs. Diligence
Round 5: Greed vs. Charity
Tuesday, Aug. 9: Sports Gluttony vs. Sports Temperance
Why He's Loved: Three Super Bowl MVPs
What's Not To Love: Is it him or the coaching?
Why She's Loved: Most dominant female athlete
What's Not to Love: Male fans' misogyny
Why He's Loved: Won Heisman, national title but stayed in school
What's Not to Love: Is he crazy?
Why He's Loved: All fundamentals
What's Not to Love: No personality
Why He's Loved: "Face of Baseball"
What's Not to Love: "Face of Baseball"
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C-List of Sports Love
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Rising/Maybe Next Year?
The Manning brothers
COMING THURSDAY: SPORTS ANGER VS. SPORTS KINDNESS
Dan Shanoff is a columnist for Page 2. His "Daily Quickie" commentary appears every weekday morning. You can chat with Dan every morning 9-10 ET on SportsNation.