Professional athletes are paid the megabucks because they represent the best in their field. It’s easy to sit in front the television on football Sunday and criticize the lackluster effort by your favorite team, but the truth is the average person wouldn’t last a single down if they were the one suited up and waiting for the play clock to start. On the baseball field, we’d strike out before even realizing the first pitch was thrown and in basketball it would be a game of dodging muscular giants more than trying to score a basket.
However, knowing that we probably couldn’t do what they do doesn’t erase the fact that sometimes they can’t do it either. When a player makes upwards of $25 million for the year and his team is out of contention before the regular season ends, questions are raised. Yet we give them the benefit of the doubt anyway. Next year’s our year, the fans say. But when an athlete or a team makes it to the final match and fails to secure the win, well then it’s time to call a spade a spade. In the world of sports, that spade is better known as a choker.
10. The 2007 New York Mets
If you’re a Mets fan, you’re accustomed to disappointment, but the collapse of the 2007 team was particularly cruel given how close the team got to the World Series the previous year.
After losing the 2006 National League Championship Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games, the Mets seemed poised to go at least as far the following year. They held first place in the National League East standings for much of the season. However, with two weeks and 17 games left in the regular season, the Mets suffered an epic collapse, one of the worst in baseball history, losing 12 games, falling out of first place and losing their spot in the playoffs.
9. Lolo Jones
Performing on the biggest stage in the world means a lot of pressure for athletes, pressure not everyone can handle. The start of the 2008 track and field season saw Lolo Jones, a star in the 100-meter hurdles, winning a national indoor championship and setting stadium records at outdoor tournaments. She was heavily favored to win the 2008 Olympic gold medal for the 100-meter hurdles. Instead, she clipped the second-to-last hurdle and fell. The world felt her pain as she went from leading the race to finishing seventh in a matter of seconds.
Four years later, Jones qualified for the Olympic team again and made it to the 100-meter hurdles final. Everyone who witnessed her heartbreak in Beijing was rooting for her in London. This time, she ran a clean race but still finished fourth, failing to live up to the expectation.