It’s February 15, and what better way to spend the day after Valentine’s Day, a day filled with love, then talking about hatred?
When I say hatred, I don’t mean in the sense that I hate when the Caps try and dump the puck out of their zone and instead hand it over to an opposing player perched on the blue line waiting for exactly that trademark Caps move...
No, this is a completely different kind of hate, an extraordinary phenomenon limited only to the sporting world. It’s the animosity we hold for those certain special teams whose successes make us want to tear our hair out and whose failures make us giggle like schoolgirls. It’s not meant in an evil way, we don’t wish actual harm to any of the teams or players assigned the ‘h’ word. We just want them to eternally fail. Is that so wrong?
When we’re kids, most of us are taught that ‘hate’ is a very strong word – too strong for every day usage and probably pretty inappropriate 99% of the time. Instead we’re taught the Tao according to Thumper: “if you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”
Well, that’s all well and good.
But Thumper got to hang out with Bambi. We have to deal with the Flyers.
It just struck me as odd how strong these feelings can be for something so trivial as sports. It’s no secret that I harbor an intense loathing for the Penguins, something I would bet is shared amongst the majority of Caps fans. Watching them rocket up the standings while the Caps have stumbled to the conference basement has been painful. The same goes for any of the old rivals – the Rangers, Flyers, Devils, and Islanders all hold that special honor of being despised with every fiber of my being.
In that same vein, I currently find myself subconsciously rooting for Tampa Bay to overtake the Thrashers in the division – something they are well positioned to do trailing three points behind with two games in hand. It’s not that I particularly like the Bolts or any division rivals for that matter, but Atlanta is a horse of a different color. Of all the Southeast opponents, they are the ones that raise the ire of the Caps’ faithful and even the Caps themselves, something many of them have mentioned on several occasions. To see them release their grasp on that #1 spot, watch them slide down the conference standings after spending so long at the top, would make my heart soar. And I’m not ashamed to admit it.
(Of course, if the Lightning could hold off on their little coup until at least tomorrow, that would be great...)
It’s obviously not just hockey, as any sports fan can attest to. Born and raised in the DC area, I have been brainwashed into hating the Cowboys...even though football is so far off my radar I barely know when the Super Bowl is on, let alone the Redskins’ record from season to season. As a Red Sox fan, the Yankees are public enemy number 1, and with the recent addition of the Nats to the DC sports world, you can add the Braves to that list as well.
But why? Why must we hate others with so much passion, when as sports fans we should be rooting for talent and skill to rise to the top, regardless of the color jersey that may be wrapped up in?
Maybe it’s the natural progression of so much history, so much heartache tied up in one franchise. Maybe it’s our little way of creating a community and bonding with our fellow fans...find a common enemy and let the bile flow. Maybe it’s just so darn fun to glare at anyone in yellow and black.
All I know is this – today, post-Valentine’s Day, I’d like to celebrate by sending my deepest heartfelt feelings of revulsion to all my closest enemies. May your big-ticket names become underachievers and may your golf games improve...
Happy February 15th!