Sometimes it’s not even team rivalries that result in this attraction to failure. Millions of people watched Game One of the NBA Playoffs last night hoping to see LeBron James have another fourth quarter collapse. Why should this be? A large majority of these people aren’t regular fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder, so why is there a vested interest in seeing James fall apart? Yes, it’s easy to dislike the Miami Heat, who James publicly spurned the Cleveland Cavaliers for, and who have been predicted to win multiple championships. Yes, James made himself a lightning rod for criticism with his hour-long middle finger to the city of Cleveland, but does he deserve the hate he gets? Should we all be gathered around our television sets hoping he not only loses, but embarrasses himself in the process?
I should point out that I’m not innocent of this type of behavior. I don’t think anybody is completely innocent of it. When star athletes go through a tough time, we feel sorry for them, maybe, but as a whole, we watch like vultures, wanting to see what’s next. We talk about it, write about it, and tune in to see as much about it as possible. When Tiger Woods has marital issues, we want details. When Kobe Bryant is accused of a crime, we have to know all about it. Then, for so many people, it’s guilty until proven innocent. We believe the worst automatically. Going back to Roethlisberger, Bengals fans almost seemed to hope that he was guilty, and while, yes, it would help the Bengals, do we really want to see somebody’s life ruined? It seems the answer is yes for some.