Rather than steroid scandals, lawsuits, and wanton violence away from the game, this means diving or flopping in soccer, underarm serves in tennis, and outlandish statements made by motormouth athletes.
A villain, for us, is someone you love to hate, and someone you want to watch just to root against.
So, without further ado, here are the 15 greatest villains in sport, listed in alphabetical order by name.
The top 15 villains in sports
The top 15 villains in sports
Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick are a double act that has been synonymous with success for more than a decade.
Why they're bad to the bone: They're unapologetically successful, and that alone is enough to make anyone who isn't a New England Patriots fan loathe them.
Together, Patriots coach Belichick and quarterback Brady have won six Super Bowl championships and are the key reasons for the New England dynasty in the NFL.
But the apparent means used to get that success has come under scrutiny, with the Los Angeles Times earlier this year calling the Patriots "football's perfect villain — cheating, haughty, hated."
Under Belichick's watch, the Patriots were caught videotaping opponents' defensive signals in 2007. This became known as "Spygate."
And if that were not bad enough, there was then "Deflategate," when the league believed Brady probably knew deflated footballs were going to be used in the 2015 AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts, something that would have given the Pats an advantage during offensive plays.
The whole ordeal inspired a 10-year-old called Ace Davis to create an entire science project about it, as he hoped to conclude that Brady is a cheater.
(Photo by Bradley Collyer/PA Images via Getty Images)
Colby Covington is a "MAGA" hat-wearing cagefighter with a megaphone.
Sport: Mixed martial arts.
Why he's bad to the bone: If you hate spoilers, don't ever visit UFC welterweight Colby Covington's social media pages because he revels in posting as many as he can, just to ruin your day.
He trash talks his haters by calling them "nerds" or "virgins," and polarized fan opinion when he presented his interim world title to Donald Trump at the White House.
Covington had nothing but good words to say about Trump, tellingMMA Junkie after the visit that it was an "out of body experience" because "he was so cool … he likes chicks, wrestling, MMA. He's just a regular guy."
(Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Even in the chaotic world of NHL, Sidney Crosby is renowned for being an agitator.
Why he's bad to the bone: "Sid the kid" is a trophy magnet having attracted back-to-back Winter Olympic gold medals with Canada and three Stanley Cup wins with the Pittsburgh Penguins NHL team.
His passing, leadership, and work ethic separate him from many of his peers, but he's also a hot head — even by hockey's standards.
Crosby is someone who slaps his stick between the legs and into the testicles of people who get in his way. Just ask Buffalo Sabres center Ryan O'Reilly who, bizarrely, brushed if off with the words "it happens" as a response to the 2017 incident.
When Kyrgios does try, he has an extraordinary box of tricks like underarm serves, tweeners, or just turning around and bending over to present his buttocks to his opponent — all of which he did during his May 14 win over Daniil Medvedev at the Italian Open.
Kyrgios unravelled Medvedev so successfully in Rome that the Russian ended up smashing his racket repeatedly on the floor of the clay court.
However, in the very next match, Kyrgios reverted to type, having fallen apart in a second round disqualification loss to Casper Ruud.
Last season, however, he stomped on the heel of Steve Pearce, the first baseman for the Boston Red Sox, two years after a wild brawlthat was sparked when he was hit by Yordano Ventura's pitch, then stormed to the mound to throw hands like it was the Royal Rumble.
It was not long before everyone from the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles benches joined in, with all hell breaking loose.
(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Marc Marquez's aggressive tactics angered a rival who once accused him of "destroying" the sport.
Why he's bad to the bone: A seven-time MotoGP world champion, Marquez is one of the most successful racers ever. And as he's still only 26 years old, he'll have plenty left in the gas tank to potentially add to that haul in the seasons ahead.
But during his time on the track, he has riled his rivals — particularly Valentino Rossi, another of the sport's true greats.
At the Argentina Grand Prix last year, Marquez chased down Rossi and attempted an aggressive maneuver, making contact with the Italian.
Rossi fell while Marquez stayed upright. He was reprimanded with a 30-second penalty and later accused by an apoplectic Rossi ofdestroying MotoGP.
(AP Photo/David Vincent)
Jose Mourinho is one of the most polarizing characters in sport.
Why he's bad to the bone: The wildly decorated soccer boss has long been revered for his Machiavellian ways.
Luis Suarez bites, then clasps his teeth like he's the one who's hurt.
Why he's bad to the bone: One of the most joyfully gifted strikers in world soccer over the last 10 years also happens to be a prolific biter.
He's bit not once, not twice, but thrice in his career as a soccer player (that we know of).
This alone is enough to attract villain status but he also flops, dives, and feigns injury.
Oh, and he also purposefully cleared the ball away from the goalline with his hands during a 2010 FIFA World Cup match, denying Ghana what would have been a critical goal — a winner — that would have dumped Uruguay out of the tournament.
Suarez was sent off but loitered around the tunnel as he awaited the fate of the resulting penalty he had conceded. Ghana missed the penalty and he celebrated wildly, attracting further condemnation. The match went to a penalty shootout, which Uruguay won.
(AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Liz Patu is the Luis Suarez of Australian rugby.
Why she's bad to the bone: Wallaroos captain Liz Patu summoned her inner Luis Suarez and clamped her jaw down on Rebecca Clough's flesh during a Super W club match between Queensland and Rugby WA earlier this year.
We're not saying Real Madrid defender Ramos is that evil cat, but because he's the most indisciplined athlete in La Liga history (154 yellow cards and 19 reds) and the most carded player in Champions League history (37 yellows and three reds), he's actually far worse.
Patrick Reed is reportedly not too popular on the PGA tour, but this golfer likely won't care.
Why he's bad to the bone: He just seems to rub people the wrong way.
"There is no doubting the ability of Patrick as a golfer, it was Patrick as a person that we chose not to associate with," an assistant golf coach from the University of Georgia said of a younger Reed,according to Golf.com.
When Reed was playing golf at college he was apparently abrasive, a cheat, and a thief, though these are all things he denies.
As a pro, has used a homophobic slur, shushed the crowd, and has ordered camera crews on the course to move away from him.
A former judoka and mixed martial artist turned professional wrestler, nobody attracts jeers quite like "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey.
Sport: Professional wrestling / sports entertainment.
Why she's bad to the bone: Ronda Rousey has been successful in many careers. She won a bronze medal in judo at the 2008 Olympic Games, was crowned Strikeforce and UFC bantamweight world champion in mixed martial arts, and went on to lift the Raw women's championship in WWE.