Growing up, children dream of becoming a famous professional athlete. They spend hours each day either honing their skills or playing in the backyard, imitating some of their favorite players.
The opportunity to make millions playing a game is any sports fan’s ultimate dream. Who wouldn’t want to rake in the cash by slamming the ball through the hoop or catching a 60-yard bomb for a touchdown?
Well, not every athlete enjoys playing sports for a living. In fact, many players absolutely hate the sport they play week in and week out. Here are five such athletes who wanted nothing more than a different career.
Chris Kluwe: NFL
The brilliant son of a doctor and a scientist, Chris Kluwe grew up playing soccer, despite never playing professionally. He did, however, fall into football.
His high school team desperately needed a kicker and so Kluwe joined the team and ended up being quite successful. In fact, he went on to play in the NFL as a punter for the Minnesota Vikings.
Despite several good seasons, Kluwe never enjoyed playing football. He didn’t really care for the sport. His true passions included video games, such as Guitar Hero, World of Warcraft, and League of Legends.
He also loved reading and became an activist for same-sex marriage and gay rights.
Chris Eubank: Boxing
While there are stories and rumors that a lot of professional boxers and trainers don’t care for the sport, British fighter Chris Eubank held nothing back in his assessment of his career path.
“I hate boxing,” the middleweight and super-middleweight champion said. “Boxing is a mugs game, 99.99% of boxers get used and abused and disfigured.”
This comment was made prior to his bout against rival Nigel Benn. Eubank’s disdain for boxing seeped from his pores, even before one of the biggest fights of his career.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto: Soccer
French-born Cameroon international soccer player Benoit Assou-Ekotto looked at his sport as more of a job than something he was passionate about. He often said he played for the money.
Although most athletes also play for a fat paycheck, Assou-Ekotto revealed it was the main reason he participated. He also revealed he felt uncomfortable with the hypocrisy of the Premier League.
“Football is just a job, a means to an end… there are more important things in life than kicking a ball around…,” Assou-Ekotto once said. “Yes, I play for the money but then doesn’t everybody who gets up in the morning and goes to work? They do it to provide for their family.”
Perhaps his feelings toward soccer are better described as apathetic rather than hatred.
Joe DiMaggio: MLB
With a 56-game hit streak record that will never be broken, one would think New York Yankees center fielder Joe DiMaggio loved stepping into the batters box each and every day. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case.
In Richard Ben Cramer’s 2001 biography of DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life, the author described the three-time MVP as someone who was not motivated to play baseball.
In 2014, Jerome Charyn, the author of Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil, told NPR DiMaggio viewed baseball as “a means of making money, he didn’t think of it as anything other than that.”
Andre Agassi: ATP
Eight-time Grand Slam champion Andre Agassi wrote in his 2009 autobiography, “I play tennis for a living even though I hate tennis, hate it with a dark and secret passion and always have.”
The issue some have with this statement is whether he was being genuine or just playing into his enigmatic personality. Although there was a time in his career in which it seemed he cared more about his appearance than his court performance, it was hard to believe he actually hated tennis.
It’s extremely difficult to be as successful as he was while also having a strong dislike for tennis. He even won a gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. This hardly sounds like a man who hates his sport, but we’ll have to take his word for it.