For fans, watching professional sports will bring out a whole host of emotions. Joy, excitement, anxiety, agony, anger and hatred are just a few of the feelings a match can generate. Hatred is one of the main emotions that fans feel in sports, and this is largely down to certain teams that have a knack of getting the majority of fans’ blood boiling. Whilst many of these teams are the most popular and successful teams in their sport, they are also despised by millions around the world and their success is often a contributing factor to this.
12. San Francisco 49ers
As this list will demonstrate, even if a team has not dominated for many years, they can still be despised by everyone outside their fanbase. The San Francisco 49ers dominated the NFL throughout the ’80s, winning the Super Bowl in 1981, 1984, 1988, 1989 and again in 1994. This is where the intense hatred that many NFL fans have for the 49ers comes from, as well as their incredibly smug slogan which reads “Who’s got it better than us?” On top of this, their fanbase contributes to the dislike that many have for the 49ers, with reputation for often being violent and rude to other fans at games. They may not have won a championship for over 20 years, but plenty of football fans will still actively root against the 49ers due to the period in which they dominated the league.
11. Real Madrid
Whilst Real Madrid are immensely popular and one of the most successful clubs of all time, they are also despised by millions of soccer fans all around the world. The primary issue that fans have with Los Blancos is the way in which the club is run and how they pursue players. It is the world’s richest soccer club, which means that each summer they will go on a mammoth spending spree to pry the best players around the world away from their clubs. It is very difficult for clubs to retain their best players when astronomical sums and staggering wages are being offered, and this is most evident through their acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, who cost £80 million and around £85.3 million, respectively. Sir Alex Ferguson once described the La Liga team as a “mafia” for how they went about acquiring Ronaldo.
10. Detroit Red Wings
If you were to say the word “Hockeytown” to any NHL fan, you are likely to spark a rather heated debate. Hockeytown could refer to Binghamton, Detroit, Montreal, Warroad and even at times Boston, Buffalo, Chicago and Philadelphia. Part of the reason that the Red Wings are so despised by NHL fans is the fact that they stole this title (even though hockey is not the number one sport in Detroit), and when combined with their famous wheel and wing logo it is a registered trademark. Another reason why they are so hated is because of a playoff tradition which frustrates many (although many fans also enjoy it), where an octopus is thrown onto the ice when they score in home playoff matches. The reason for this is that the eight legs of an octopus are symbolic of the eight wins it took them to win the 1952 Stanley Cup.
9. Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys named themselves “America’s team,” and this arrogance is just part of the reason they are so hated. The nickname came from their 1978 highlight film where the narrator stated “they appear on television so often that their faces are as familiar to the public as presidents and movie stars. They are the Dallas Cowboys, ‘America’s Team.’” The fact that they regularly appear on television also frustrates fans, as it leads them to be overexposed and constantly in the spotlight. Seeing as they are on TV so often, it means that there are millions of fans outside of Dallas and the U.S., which also makes them unpopular with other NFL fans. To top it all off, their owner Jerry Jones is despised by many, even Cowboys fans, largely due to his arrogance. In 2003, Jones was named the least favorite sports personality by Sports Illustrated.
8. Boston Bruins
All of Boston’s sports franchises are hated, and the Bruins are no exception. The general consensus among hockey fans is that the Bruins have no class, and this goes for the organization itself, as well as the fanbase. They have a history of diving, a lack of sportsmanship, intimidating their opponent and dirty plays, particularly from heavily despised figures including Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand. The Bruins have enjoyed some success in recent years which always leads to hatred (or jealousy), but the hatred for the Bruins runs much deeper than this, and nowhere more so than Canada. This hatred in Canada is for a few reasons, including Zdeno Chara shoving Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty into the boards and stanchion in 2011, resulting in a concussion and fractured vertebrae. The lack of fine or suspension caused much uproar, and Air Canada threatened to remove its league sponsorship.
7. Manchester United
You either love them or hate them, and Manchester United are supported by millions of people in each corner of the globe. They are also intensely despised by many soccer fans, a lot which has to do with their success and popularity. This is particularly true in England, where there are thousands of “glory supporters” who have never been to Manchester nor have ties to the city at all (this is a huge factor in English fans choosing a team). These “glory supporters” simply support Man United because of the incredible success that they have had over the years during Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign. Much like Real Madrid, money is also not an issue for Man United, and this summer they have thrown cash at their problems and bought some of the top talent from around the world. This could see them challenge for the title once again.
6. L.A. Lakers
The Lakers may be one of the worst teams the league, and not even the best team in Los Angeles anymore, but this doesn’t make them any less hated. Along with the Celtics (more on them to come), the Lakers have had periods of complete dominance in the league, including the ’50s, ’80s and ’00s. Throughout history they have been know to play a fast-paced, exciting brand of basketball known as “Showtime,” but you will find that many fans hate this due to it being an arrogant way of playing. On top of this, being a Hollywood team catches them a lot of heat as they are a “cool” team to support because of the glitz and glamour attached. Some of the greatest players to grace the hardwood have worn the famous purple and gold, and where there is extreme talent, there will always be extreme hatred too.
5. Boston Celtics
The Celtics have 17 championship banners hanging from the rafters (one more than the Lakers), and when you win as much as Boston have, it’s only natural that you’ll be hated by everyone outside your fanbase. As this list demonstrates, Boston teams are not popular due to their success and devoted fans. The Celtics fans adore their team and are incredibly proud of what they’ve accomplished, but this of course has an air of smugness to it. They are particularly hated on the West Coast and by the Lakers. Much like the Lakers, the Celtics are currently rebuilding and it looks to be a long wait before an 18th banner is added. Even though the C’s do not pose as much of a threat as they have done most of their existence, they are still despised by most basketball fans not wearing their iconic green and white colors.
You would be hard-pressed to find a team more successful than Chelsea in recent years, but they have not always been one of the elite teams in Europe. In June 2003, Chelsea were bought by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who pumped over £100 million into new players and put Jose Mourinho in charge of the team. Since then, Chelsea have enjoyed a tremendous amount of success, which has led to millions of Chelsea fans suddenly appearing out of nowhere. These are known as “plastic fans” and can be found in all sports. When you have a fanbase largely built up of plastic fans along with unlimited money, it will generate a huge amount of hate. Since Mourinho has returned to the club, Chelsea have been criticized heavily for playing a boring and defensive style of football commonly referred to as “parking the bus.”
3. Boston Red Sox
One common trend throughout all sports is that teams that spend jaw-dropping amounts of money will be hated by almost everyone outside of their fanbase. The Red Sox have a bulging payroll that is larger than all MLB teams not called the Yankees (more on them later), and this is certainly a contributing factor as to why they are so hated. The Red Sox went 86 long years without a trophy, but they then won in 2004 and 2007, a time in which all of the other New England teams were also dominating (as this list demonstrates, teams from New England are not too popular). The Red Sox have since won another World Series, but you will find that most MLB fans much preferred the team when they were cursed and not arrogant and built up of bandwagon fans.
2. New England Patriots
The only thing that sports fans hate more than a team that wins a lot is a team that cheats. The Pats are guilty of both these things, having won four Super Bowls (2001, 2003, 2004 and 2014) and been involved in several scandals. They have been caught videotaping their opponents’ defensive signals, they scored the winning field goal in 1982 due to their snow plow operator clearing a spot and, of course, the most recent case is “deflategate” where they have been accused of using underinflated balls. The Patriots are also despised because of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, who are both extremely talented, but also infuriate most fans outside of New England. The modern day success, the cheating, the smugness and the duo of Brady and Belichick ensure that the Patriots are the most hated team in football and one of the most hated teams in the world.
1. New York Yankees
As established, trophies and money will breed hatred. No one has more of either than the Yankees, who have a phenomenal 27 World Series championships and a staggering payroll, which has, of course, helped them to become so successful. They are the highest valued sports franchise in the US, and their success and exposure make them popular all around the world. Those that don’t support them, despise them, and this makes them one of the most loved and hated teams in the entire world. Players such as Alex Rodriguez do not help the Yankees’ case, and the smugness that inevitably comes with so much success rubs many fans the wrong way. You either love them or you hate them, but there is no denying that their success is breathtaking, and this is the reason that people feel so passionately about them at both ends of the spectrum.