I know exactly what you mean.
Look at how well Cav did this year, and how much he struggled to confirm a spot for next year. That's what I mean. Good or bad, there is no room for sentiment in the response to an athlete's results when money is involved.
When it comes to the SA fans, it's complicated. We have almost zero unified national identity. Small pockets of fans are motivated to support, for example, the springbok rugby team at world champs. when they don't do well, those of us who invested so much personal time in getting behind them feel let down. Without a national unity to fall back on, we then let that out in anger.
We need a shrink to explain it.