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#1
Old 04-25-2016, 01:17 AM
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Nicest athletes by sport to fans: from nicest to nastiest

Based on my personal experience and things I heard from sports reporters and others from best to worst. BTW, YES, I get it: every sport has good guys and bad guys, and its hard to paint an entire industry with one brush. But IMO, if we were forced to it would be:

THE GOOD

SOCCER Even after being taunted for 90 minutes, Ive seen soccer players come up to and applaud for and then talk to the same fans who were just mocking them. They get, more than any other sports, its just a game. I ran into the Richmond Kickers after a loss to my Bethlehem Steel FC at a Wegmans, and gave them my good game congratulations, and to a man were very friendly and somewhat shy.

NFL FOOTBALL Been to several autograph signings featuring NFL players, and 80% of them engage with the fans, and have a great sense of humor. I'm even followed by couple of them on Twitter. Very down to earth.

HOCKEY Most sports reporters will tell you they are very down to Earth. That said, Ive heard a handful of horror stories about guys like Pete Peters and Mike Richards. Never met a pro hockey player but based on the stories Ive heard about some the handful of assholes that play the sport, a couple points off. But overall very down to earth culture.

EEEEEEEH

PRO WRESTLING I've actually been in in the business in a limited fashion, and can tell you while most pro wrestlers are cool with the fans Ive seen a lot of wrestlers also act like dicks in front of fans. Arn Anderson used to be notorious for going off on fans looking for autographs. Good luck getting autographs from old timey legends without paying a lot of cash to a wrestling convention and then paying more to get your photo taken with them. I think a lot of this comes from the old wrestling con philosophy that you need to milk as much money from the marks (public) as possible. And yes, Ive even seen wrestlers refuse to sign anything or take photos with fans unless they produced money.

AUTO RACING I met Tony Stewart 15 years ago at the Home Depot Booth at the NAHB show in Dallas ans he was very friendly; I was also told he was very friendly at an Office Depot signing 4 years ago locally. Of course he was, both times: he was making public appearances. But I'm also told by many that interacted with him Dale Earnhardt Sr was a total dick and Ive heard similar stories about other race car drivers.

BAD

BASEBALL Ive seen many players come up to fans and sign autographs. But my Mom tells me a story over and over again about asking for an autograph from Robin Roberts and he snarled back at her "I don't sign autographs for kids!". Also I've heard sports reporter after sports reporter tell tales of how the 80 and 93 Phillies were just a bunch of miserable guys. Theres Randy Johnson. I get the impression that baseball players tend to be dicks.
#2
Old 04-25-2016, 10:53 AM
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I've never gotten a sense that athletes are nicer or meaner in any particular sport, nor have I observed that players in any one sport give autographs more readily than those in any other.
#3
Old 04-25-2016, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by astorian View Post
I've never gotten a sense that athletes are nicer or meaner in any particular sport, nor have I observed that players in any one sport give autographs more readily than those in any other.
Agreed. There are great people and assholes in all sports. And sometimes you catch a great person having a bad day. I don't think there's a meaningful way to generalize this across different sports.
#4
Old 04-25-2016, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by russian heel View Post

BAD

BASEBALL Ive seen many players come up to fans and sign autographs. But my Mom tells me a story over and over again about asking for an autograph from Robin Roberts and he snarled back at her "I don't sign autographs for kids!". Also I've heard sports reporter after sports reporter tell tales of how the 80 and 93 Phillies were just a bunch of miserable guys. Theres Randy Johnson. I get the impression that baseball players tend to be dicks.
I have no opinion, generally. I don't have the same impression.

I will point out a personal observation that might be the exception that proves the rule.

I was at a Seattle Mariners game a few years ago. We were playing the White Sox. We were seated very close the the White Sox dugout. Near us were some White Sox fans who were loud and obnoxious, and who were absolutely brutal in their comments to White Sox first baseman Adam Dunn. Next to me was a nurse and a young boy at his first baseball game, who was a patient at Seattle Children's Hospital. He sat quietly and seemed to be enjoying the game. He was clearly not well, and I figured it was a make-a-wish kind of event. Anyway, about half way through the game, Adam Dunn came to the end of the aisle during an inning break and called the boy forward. He have him an autographed ball, and his batting gloves. The kid was so happy. The drunk White Sox fans finally shut up.
#5
Old 04-25-2016, 10:58 PM
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The few experiences that I've had with professional athletes has been generally positive.

At a Cubs game in Chicago, the HoF pitcher Ferguson Jenkins signed a ball for me. As he finished, then-Cub player Terry Shumpert signed it also (he took the initiative to sign it...I didn't ask him to).

I have a good friend who was involved in OVW. That's Ohio Valley Wrestling, which was kind of a farm system for WWE talent for a while. I got to meet a lot of wrestlers on their way both up and down the ladder. Most of them were nice, friendly people outside of the ring and away from the crowd. There's only one I can think of who was a dick, and that's because I hit on his sister, not knowing who she was (no one famous, just that it was his sister).

I got to know Jim Cornett pretty well. Went clubbing with some friends and Shelton Benjamin one night.

I think a lot of the response is to when, how, and where you ask.

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#6
Old 04-26-2016, 12:53 PM
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Having had jobs that have had me in contact with a large number of both Basketball and Hockey players, I found that NBA players were a all generally pretty cool guys. Even guys who were touchy on the basketball court such as Rasheed Wallace. He was a really good guy outside of the game, at least to me.

Hockey players as well.
#7
Old 04-26-2016, 09:02 PM
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Anecdotally, baseball players in general were always nice about giving autographs... But the Yankees were mostly stingy.

Guys who happily gave autographs when they played with the Twins or Rangers frequently turned lazy, apathetic and hostile toward autograph seekers after coming to New York.

To use one concrete example, when Bucky Dent was a teen shortstop with the White Sox, he was extremely nice to New York kids who asked for autographs. A few years later, when he played for the Yankees, he couldn't be bothered, unless the autograph seeker was a pretty girl.

The only guys in pinstripes who signed autographs happily were Ron Guidry and bullpen catcher Dominic Scala. Scala wasn't even a player on the roster! He was a minor league catcher who was hired to warm up Goose Gossage and Sparky Lyle, since Fran Healy was too lazy to do it and elderly bullpen coach Cloyd Boyer's legs were no longer up for the job. Regardless, when kids approached the bullpen to seek autographs, Gossage would pretend he didn't see or hear them. Sparky Lyle would flip them the bird. But Dom Scala would sign autographs all night.

Last edited by astorian; 04-26-2016 at 09:07 PM.
#8
Old 04-26-2016, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by russian heel View Post

EEEEEEEH

PRO WRESTLING I've actually been in in the business in a limited fashion, and can tell you while most pro wrestlers are cool with the fans Ive seen a lot of wrestlers also act like dicks in front of fans. Arn Anderson used to be notorious for going off on fans looking for autographs. Good luck getting autographs from old timey legends without paying a lot of cash to a wrestling convention and then paying more to get your photo taken with them. I think a lot of this comes from the old wrestling con philosophy that you need to milk as much money from the marks (public) as possible. And yes, Ive even seen wrestlers refuse to sign anything or take photos with fans unless they produced money.
I used to work as a server in the corporate suites at the arena, way back when I was about 22 or so. I remember when the WWE came to town. They let some of us go home early, since it wasn't busy. I went down to the basement (ice-level), to use the tunnels and avoid the crowds. Several of the entertainers were waiting to go out at their time. I was chatting with one of the security guards when I realized the chatter had gone silent. Two of the wrestlers had stopped chatting and were staring at me. When I looked over, they called out, "Come on baby, give us a ride?"

Classy.
#9
Old 04-27-2016, 05:09 AM
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As a European, I have to question the assertion that soccer players are among the nicest. There's a reason the adage "Rugby is a thug's game played by gentlemen; football is a gentlemen's game played by thugs" exists. There are definitely some nice, charitable footballers out there, but there's also a disproportionate amount of, pardon my French, absolute spacking cunts among them. I suspect it's due to how early the absolute best footballers come into fame and money; many will be multi-millionaires before their 18th birthdays.
#10
Old 04-27-2016, 05:49 AM
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It cuts both ways.

A friend of mine is retired from the NFL and in the HOF. He does occasional autograph/picture events for beer money. He has been approached with elaborate stories about sick kids, etc and has given away a unique, signed jersey only to later see it for sale on eBay.
#11
Old 04-27-2016, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by kayaker View Post
It cuts both ways.

A friend of mine is retired from the NFL and in the HOF. He does occasional autograph/picture events for beer money. He has been approached with elaborate stories about sick kids, etc and has given away a unique, signed jersey only to later see it for sale on eBay.
Oh, I have no doubt that if I approached Sparky Lyle or Goose Gossage and asked why they were such pricks to autograph seekers, they could tell me some horror stories. Most pro athletes can tell true stories like, "One time I signed autographs for an hour, but finally, I just had to go home. I told the kids sorry, I hope I can take care of you next time, and they all started cursing at me, telling me I suck, calling me an asshole... who needs it?"

I get it. I do. But you know, it wouldn't have been ANY harder for Sparky or Goose to sign a few autographs than it was for Dominic Scala, who was getting paid a tiny fraction of what the big leaguers got.
#12
Old 04-27-2016, 01:56 PM
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This is worth a read.
#13
Old 04-27-2016, 02:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astorian View Post
The only guys in pinstripes who signed autographs happily were Ron Guidry and bullpen catcher Dominic Scala. Scala wasn't even a player on the roster! He was a minor league catcher who was hired to warm up Goose Gossage and Sparky Lyle, since Fran Healy was too lazy to do it and elderly bullpen coach Cloyd Boyer's legs were no longer up for the job. Regardless, when kids approached the bullpen to seek autographs, Gossage would pretend he didn't see or hear them. Sparky Lyle would flip them the bird. But Dom Scala would sign autographs all night.
For every story, there's a counter-story.

In the summer of '88, I was a grad student at the University of Wisconsin. I went with some friends to Milwaukee for a Brewers / Yankees game; before the game, there was an "Old-Timers" event, and the older players from both teams were along the fence, singing autographs and posing for pictures. I met Sparky Lyle, chatted with him for a few minutes, and asked him if I could take his picture -- he said, "Sure!", and smiled...but as I actually snapped the photo, he stuck out his tongue, making it an even better pic (IMO ).
#14
Old 04-27-2016, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
For every story, there's a counter-story.

In the summer of '88, I was a grad student at the University of Wisconsin. I went with some friends to Milwaukee for a Brewers / Yankees game; before the game, there was an "Old-Timers" event, and the older players from both teams were along the fence, singing autographs and posing for pictures. I met Sparky Lyle, chatted with him for a few minutes, and asked him if I could take his picture -- he said, "Sure!", and smiled...but as I actually snapped the photo, he stuck out his tongue, making it an even better pic (IMO ).
I'm glad you had a good experience.

But Sparky was a guy who seemed to ENJOY flipping the bird. In his book, "The Bronx Zoo," Sparky related the following: a fan wrote to George Steinbrenner that Sparky had promised an autographed ball to the fan's son, but never delivered. Sparky then signed a ball "Kiss my bass, Sparky Lyle," and mailed it to the fan.

That goes beyond being an introvert or preferring not to deal with obnoxious kids. That's the work of a man who enjoys being a jerk little too much.
#15
Old 04-27-2016, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by astorian View Post
But Sparky was a guy who seemed to ENJOY flipping the bird. In his book, "The Bronx Zoo," Sparky related the following: a fan wrote to George Steinbrenner that Sparky had promised an autographed ball to the fan's son, but never delivered. Sparky then signed a ball "Kiss my bass, Sparky Lyle," and mailed it to the fan.

That goes beyond being an introvert or preferring not to deal with obnoxious kids. That's the work of a man who enjoys being a jerk little too much.
True enough. It's also possible that, by the time I saw him in '88 (ten years removed from his days with the Yankees, and 6 years retired), he might have mellowed a bit. Or, I just caught him on a good day.
#16
Old 04-27-2016, 08:17 PM
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Motorsport journalist Curt Cavin of the "Indianapolis Star" once said NASCAR drivers are fairly easy to get along with, IndyCar drivers were better but the best were NHRA..they get it in how important it is to deal with the media
#17
Old 04-28-2016, 01:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Sampsiceramos View Post
As a European, I have to question the assertion that soccer players are among the nicest. There's a reason the adage "Rugby is a thug's game played by gentlemen; football is a gentlemen's game played by thugs" exists. There are definitely some nice, charitable footballers out there, but there's also a disproportionate amount of, pardon my French, absolute spacking cunts among them. I suspect it's due to how early the absolute best footballers come into fame and money; many will be multi-millionaires before their 18th birthdays.
Fair enough; perhaps here in the US soccer is so unpopular that footballers truly appreciate any attention given to them.
#18
Old 04-28-2016, 08:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astorian View Post
Anecdotally, baseball players in general were always nice about giving autographs... But the Yankees were mostly stingy.

Guys who happily gave autographs when they played with the Twins or Rangers frequently turned lazy, apathetic and hostile toward autograph seekers after coming to New York.
One perhaps has to notice the common element here would be the fans, and if perhaps they are not a bit more demanding in New York.
#19
Old 04-28-2016, 09:51 AM
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IME;

Aussie cricketers were without exception a bunch of arseholes.
EPL/La Liga guys moreso. The one exception was CR7, to my amazement and Pique.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sampsiceramos
As a European, I have to question the assertion that soccer players are among the nicest. There's a reason the adage "Rugby is a thug's game played by gentlemen; football is a gentlemen's game played by thugs" exists. There are definitely some nice, charitable footballers out there, but there's also a disproportionate amount of, pardon my French, absolute spacking cunts among them. I suspect it's due to how early the absolute best footballers come into fame and money; many will be multi-millionaires before their 18th birthdays.
From what a friend who deals with footballers professionally tells me, that is depressingly true. He said that annoyingly those who grew up well off/rich tend to be far less obnoxious.
#20
Old 04-28-2016, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Jim's Son View Post
Motorsport journalist Curt Cavin of the "Indianapolis Star" once said NASCAR drivers are fairly easy to get along with, IndyCar drivers were better but the best were NHRA..they get it in how important it is to deal with the media
Well, when the competition lasts for 4 seconds it does leave a lot of time for other things.
#21
Old 04-28-2016, 10:05 AM
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I must disagree with your assessment of NASCAR drivers. Most drivers are very available and will sign autographs for as long as it takes. What fans don't realize is that drivers have many demands on their time and when they have to cut short an autograph session, people think they are dicks. They would stay if they could. At Sonoma in 1991, I watch Dale Sr., Rusty and Kenny Wallace and a couple other drivers spend over 2 hours signing autographs during a downtime in the schedule. They stayed till the fans were gone.
#22
Old 04-28-2016, 10:25 AM
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@AK84 CR7 is an odd case, really. It seems like his at times sulky and petulant behaviour on the pitch has caused a lot of people to assume that he's also like this off the pitch. In reality, if his constant philanthropy and decision to raise two children (and well, by all accounts I've heard) on his own are any indicator, he's a pretty swell guy.

Messi, on the other hand, seems to have acquired a saintly reputation because he's pretty demure on the pitch, when in reality he's a tax-evading slimeball off the pitch.

In general though I don't think the behavioural issues among "noveau riche" footballers is an issue specific to football. Financial mismanagement and shitty off-the-field behaviour is a staple of the NFL, too.
#23
Old 04-28-2016, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Sampsiceramos View Post
@AK84 CR7 is an odd case, really. It seems like his at times sulky and petulant behaviour on the pitch has caused a lot of people to assume that he's also like this off the pitch. In reality, if his constant philanthropy and decision to raise two children (and well, by all accounts I've heard) on his own are any indicator, he's a pretty swell guy.

Messi, on the other hand, seems to have acquired a saintly reputation because he's pretty demure on the pitch, when in reality he's a tax-evading slimeball off the pitch.
I happen to know several people at Old Trafford and without any exception they sang his praises, and these guys have seen many legends come and go. Similar things I have heard about Beckham.
Messi, yes, although from what I can tell thats Dad's doing and he comes off as standoffish generally, but I have also heard that he is quite reserved which might explain that.

Quote:
In general though I don't think the behavioural issues among "noveau riche" footballers is an issue specific to football. Financial mismanagement and shitty off-the-field behaviour is a staple of the NFL, too.
Yes, but my afore-mentioned friend said that whenever she see's a well behaved one, it is almost ineviatble that they were from a well off background, which surprises her (and me). Not to say that you don't have well behaved working class types, you do, but the well off ones seem a lot more grounded.
#24
Old 04-28-2016, 01:41 PM
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I'm surprised that GOOD and BAD seems to hinge on whether they give autographs or not.

Without that definition, I would have said that NFL players are the worst. They certainly seem to be in the news, police stations, and courts.
#25
Old 04-28-2016, 03:11 PM
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I could add hockey players as generally being good guys - I had three signed "Summit 72 Series" sets of cards because they were all nice enough (Tretiak included) to stop and sign them for me.

#26
Old 04-28-2016, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by RickJay View Post
One perhaps has to notice the common element here would be the fans, and if perhaps they are not a bit more demanding in New York.
Entirely possible. As I acknowledged earlier, fans can be obnoxious, and a player who's signed a bunch of scorecards and been "rewarded" with a chorus of "You sucks" when he can't accomodate everyone won't be eager to sign again.

But the fact remains, back in 1976, young White Sox shortstop Bucky Dent happily signed autographs for grateful Yankee fans. A few years later, when he was with the Yankees, he shunned autograph seekers (unless they had large breasts). And Bucky wasn't atypical.
#27
Old 04-28-2016, 06:45 PM
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The Bryan Brothers in tennis are widely known for their kindness to fans and professionalism to the other players. They are the dominant doubles team for the past decade or so and are very approachable. Great guys, great athletes, and great representatives of American in international competitions.

Stan Wawrinka is also widely seen as a great guy to fans and other players. He was used to being the #2 Swiss player behind the giant Federer for years. Federer is a nice guy, but is obviously swarmed with attention. Stan used to sign autographs after their practice sessions and had a smaller crowd. Now, he's won two Grand Slalm singles titles and pretty much everyone in the world is happy for him, wants his autograph, and has a great experience with him.

Heck, Federer probably is almost as happy about Stan being a dominant player as he was happy about his own successes.
#28
Old 04-29-2016, 02:08 AM
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It's honestly sort of funny that Stan is apparently such a fan darling given how angry he comes off as on court. I remember during the FO final he won against Djokovic, it felt like he was literally feeding off his anger and indignation at the press; pummeling the ball in such a way that it seemed like he was doing it with outright malice.
#29
Old 04-29-2016, 06:04 PM
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Bit of an anecdote about Christiano Ronaldo.

My friend's kid had a speech day at school a few years back, and they were told a special guest was coming. Turned out to be CR. Apparently he was charming, stayed for a long time, gave autographs and chatted with the kids. A lovely guy they all said. My friend asked the teacher how they managed to get him (he was at Manchester United at the time and a huge star). She said that the previous summer she was in her kitchen and heard a crash outside. She ran to her garden and found a Porsche had come off the road, crashed through her fence, and ended up in the greenhouse. Out stepped Ronaldo. He said he'd pay for all the damage, but was there anything he could do to keep it out of the papers.
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