Does arrogance equal success in sports?

By Ivan Mateo

As a society, confidence is an important and attractive characteristic that people search for in others. But how much is too much? When does overconfidence turn into arrogance? What does overconfidence in sports do for athletes?

For example, what sets Kobe Bryant apart from Kevin Durant? It is not merely skill, height or age. It’s confidence.

Kobe has an enveloping aura of arrogance and swagger, whereas Durant acts as a silent assassin, who goes about perfecting his craft diligently and quietly. They are both very successful basketball players, but they go about their game play in different ways. Is one style better? Does arrogance equal success?

Russell Westbrook, Durant’s partner in crime on the Oklahoma City Thunder, is seen as a player comparable to Bryant. Much like Bryant ,Westbrook is outspoken, arrogant and fearless. However, Westbrook has nowhere near the notoriety of Bryant, even with their similar personalities.

Beyond the National Basketball Association, overconfidence is found in the National Football League too. Wide receivers used to be the epitome of arrogance, especially with players like Randy Moss, Chad “Ocho-Cinco” Johnson and Terrell Owens. These players were brash and cocky, but they always showed up and played on Sundays. Arrogance sells games and storylines. Arrogance gets people to turn their televisions on. Arrogance has people “getting their popcorn ready,” in the words of Owens.

Overconfident characters in sports make events much more interesting to attend, watch and partake in. Good guys win audiences over with their good natures and humility, but there is something about the overconfidence and cockiness of pro athletes that steal the show. They provide us with a different narrative to follow other than the usual hero stereotype.

Tennis players have ignorance complexes as well. Roger Federer is the stereotypical good guy and great player, but shows little to no emotion or passion. He can be viewed as mechanical, but little to no mistakes are committed and he usually wins.

On the other side of the tennis world, Rafael Nadal is the perfect counter to Federer. He is not arrogant, but displays emotion every chance he gets through yells and fist pumps, especially after a long rally or to psyche himself up. They’re contrasting players, but they’re both winners.

Arrogance in traditional sports can also be compared to professional wrestling and the World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE for short. WWE is known not only for its wrestling spectacles, but also for the charismatic wrestlers.

Traditional sports should not employ steel chairs and burning tables, but they could take note from the stories told by the WWE. Fans gather together and watch to see their favorite wrestler not only wrestle, but also put on a show. Wrestlers like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson can successfully play both arrogant villain and modest hero types, and he is arguably the most successful and electrifying sports entertainer. Maybe a balance is needed for players to achieve maximum entertainment.

As an audience, we are emotionally invested in our favorite players and hang on to their every action and reaction during matches. Fans around the world love seeing extreme reactions and the rollercoaster of emotions left on the court, field or mat. There is room for arrogance and humility in sports because each gives a different perspective, storyline and form of entertainment. Arrogance attracts and entertains some fans, while annoying others. Humility inspires some fans, and turns off others. It’s a balance and there will always be cocky and humble players to keep the audience selling out tickets.

Does arrogance equal success in sports?

Jenilee Umali/The Poly Post

Does arrogance equal success in sports?

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