For most of my natural life I’ve hated the LA Lakers. I grew up in Phoenix and until I was 9 years old the only professional team we had was the Suns and since they were mediocre the only rival we had was our geographical rival, the Lakers. Yes Utah borders Arizona but Phoenix to Salt Lake City by car is ten hours if traffic is cooperating.
In 1988 Phoenix was given the St Louis Cardinals football team. In 1988 I started hating the Dallas Cowboys. Their fans would flood our stadium and pretend it was a home game for them. It drove me nuts and still does (through the miracles of HD I can see in great detail how many Cowboys fans there are at Cardinals home games).
As time went by and I grew into adolescence and my teen years I learned, for various reasons, to hate the UCLA Bruins, the New York Yankees, the Duke Blue Devils, the Oklahoma Sooners, and who could forget, Manchester United.
When I was 19 I would probably have flat out refused to work, even on a voluntary basis, for a Yankee fan. Now that I’m 34 I not only have several friends who are Yankee fans but I am also capable of genuine feelings of sorrow that Derek Jeter didn’t announce his retirement last season so that he could get the public farewell that he deserves. The 19 year old me would’ve said “I hope he invested all his money in Pogs and Pokemon cards and we read about him going bankrupt in 5 years”. I was “that guy”.
Before we go any further let me state for the record that I still hope that none of the teams listed as teams that I hate ever win another game in the next 100 years. But now that I’m older it doesn’t really bother me as much when they inevitably do.
When I was 25 I remember watching Duke in the NCAA tournament and screaming at the TV “that’s a foul, foul, another foul, that’s a **** **** foul!!!!” and my wife replying “honey, you need to calm down”. Nowadays I just say “bleh” and turn the channel for a few minutes. When I was 25 I used to use all of my vocabulary, geographical knowledge, and sociological insight to creatively insult the Oklahoma Sooners and their fans. Now I just say “eh, sooner or later they’ll get put on probation for a slew of violations”. Yankee fans don’t bother me at all, when they win the World Series (as they seem to do every couple of years), I just pop in my 2001 World Series DVD and relive the best World Series ever.
Maybe it’s the fact that I have a wife and a child, I’ve had many different full time jobs, I have a master’s degree, and I’m also just generally more mature. I just can’t hate sports teams as much as I used to. Or maybe, just maybe, my hatred is evolving into a more Schadenfreud-like state. I love it with an embarrassing amount of glee when bad things happen to the teams I dislike.
This season of English Premier League soccer has been an absolute dream come true. Manchester United are drawing last place teams at home. Manchester United are losing in the first round of the FA Cup. Manchester United are currently in 7th place. Before you say “seventh place doesn’t sound too bad” I can tell you with absolute certainty that for Manchester United fans 7th place might as well be 70th. I’d have to look it up but I don’t think United have been in 7th place this late in the season since I was about 5 years old.
The NBA has also been remarkably fantastic this year. I’m vaguely aware of the Phoenix Suns winning games, but that’s not that important. What’s important is how terrible the LA Lakers are. Everyone is beating them. Its fantastic. They’re a mess from a financial standpoint and their roster shows no signs of improvement and little hope for the future (give or take a Patrick Ewing style lottery fix).
I don’t know where my hatred has gone and I don’t know exactly what its going to evolve into. I know that I will never cheer for any of my teams on the dislike list. I will continue to use the term BBD for matchups where I don’t like either team (BBD = Bus Breakdown, as in both team’s buses break down and the game has to be cancelled, this year’s Super Bowl was a BBD). The one certainty I have is that it is unlikely I will every scream at the TV again (the exception being a Manchester City v Manchester United Champions League or FA Cup Final).