Archive for June 22nd, 2011


Defining “Sports Hate”

 Joe Posnanski of did a great piece on the hatred of LeBron James, and in general the hatred or love we feel about certain players or teams (here’s the link, if you want to check it out So I don’t feel I have to add a whole lot to what he says, but the piece did get me to thinking a lot about the teams that I hate, and why I root for or against certain teams. Sports hatred is not easy to define, and yet we all do it. My cousin hates Dirk Nowitzki, but when I asked him why he just sort of shrugged and says he gets a lot of foul calls. Which is true, but it is also true of Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, and about a million other superstars. But I understand why he couldn’t give me a straight answer. It’s the same reason I can’t tell you exactly why I hate the Steelers, or the Spurs or a number of other teams. Sports hate is not easy to define, at least it wasn’t until now…

I have created the ultimate guide to explaining and defining sports hatred (keep in mind sports hate is not like real hate, it just applies to sports, and is meant to be in good fun). The Sports Hate Index for Teams, or S.H.I.T. list  can help you determine exactly why you hate whatever team you hate. Here it is, hope this answers some questions.

1) Hatred because of Jealousy

In truth, most sports hate is really because of jealousy. We don’t like to admit it, but we all wish our baseball team was the Yankees, our basketball team was the Lakers, our football team was the Steelers, and our hockey team was the Red Wings. We wish we were from Boston, so we could celebrate seven championships in ten years, but we can’t, unless your one of those annoying people that follows the trendy team at a given moment (like most Heat fans this year). Bottom line is, we are jealous of other teams success, this is multiplied when out own teams do not have success. If you are a Rangers fan, and you had never got out of the first round until last year, how are you not jealous of the Yankees 27 titles?

It makes perfect sense for Cleveland to have a lot of hate because they have not won anything in over fifty years. This is why LeBron leaving them was so hard to take. They didn’t win with him, and now they are years away from winning anything else, without him. The teams with the most success, regardless of how they are run, are hated the most. We hate them because we are jealous, whether we want to admit it or not.

2) Hatred because of Rivalries

Rivalries exist in sports, in part due to tradition, in part due to geographical location, and teams placement in divisions, but most importantly because true rivals keep your team from reaching its goal. The best rivalries from my perspective were the 49ers in the 90’s and the San Antonio Spurs in the 2000’s. Both won championships, but more importantly both had the power to keep my teams (the Cowboys, and Mavs) from reaching our goals. From 92 to 95 the winner of the 49ers/Cowboys NFC Championship game would win the Superbowl every time. The NFC Championship back then was the Superbowl! The Mavericks have not been as successful as the Spurs (Although this year we were!) but you always knew as a Dallas fan that to advance in the playoffs you had to face that team. Since 2001 The Mavs and Spurs have met in the playoffs five times, with Dallas winning two series and the Spurs winning one. They are a true rival, both geographically, and competitively.

True rivals are great for sports, but there are not a ton of them. The Yankees/Red Sox is a true rivalry, The Texas Longhorns, and Oklahoma Sooners are one, Lakers/Celtics is one, but there aren’t many. True rivals have a few things in common. One is geographic or divisional location, usually both. The Red Sox and Yankees both play in the AL East, and they are the two major cities on the East Coast. The Sooners and Longhorns both play in the Big 12 and they are seperated by the Red River. Teams don’t have to be geographically simmilar. The Lakers and Celtics are over a thousand miles apart, and the 49ers and Cowboys were seperated by three states, but in those cases the two teams usually play in the same conference, or happen to meet a lot in big games. The Celtics and Lakers have played each other in nine championship series.

The other thing that makes a true rival is competitive success (meaning you have to have both teams beating the other one on some regular basis) and usually but not always championship success. It matters more that the Red Sox and Yankees have both won World Series Trophies in this decade, same for the Lakers and Celtics. This is why as a Cowboys fan I don’t consider the Eagles a true rival because they have never won a Superbowl, and have never got in the way of us winning one. The Giants and Redskins on the other hand are true rivals because they have won multiple titles, sometimes at the expense of Dallas.

It is okay to hate a rival team, hell it is expected. This is the most legitimate form of sports hatred.

3) Dislike of key players

This one is tricky, because as Jerry Seinfeld once said we are often left rooting for laundry when it comes to pro sports. When A-Rod left the Mariners to come to Texas, I cheered him, when he left Texas to go to the Yankees I booed him. The Red Sox cheered Johnny Damon until he went to the Yankees, and yes I hated T.O. until he traded his Eagle green jersey in and brought his popcorn to North Texas.

So some of this hatred of players is fluid, but sometimes it does stick. I will never like LeBron after his decision, the way he announced it and the way he left Cleveland holding the bag so he could partner up with Wade and Bosh and party on south beach. Maybe you are okay with his decision, that is fine, but it is easy to understand why so many people dislike him. But because he plays for the Heat, I will also hate the Heat, even if I might have otherwise liked him. For the same reason I will always hate the Yankees because they have two of our ex-players on their roster, the egomaniacal Tex and A-Rod.

Sometimes the hatred gets a little more personal. Like if you hate the Eagles because you hate what Michael Vick did, or you hate the Steelers because you dislike what Ben Roethlisberger did. For me personally, I don’t get too bothered by this stuff. About the only players I truly despise on a personal level are Pete Rose (because he lied for decades when all he had to do was tell the truth) and O.J. because, well… Because he killed two people! But in both cases these players were long retired before I disliked them. I don’t even dislike Barry Bonds that much even though I know he cheated. Still, some people have strong principals when it comes to this stuff, and who am I to tell them who to root for. If you don’t like the Lakers because you think Kobe cheated on his wife, you are entitled to your opinion (even though I think its a dumb opinion).

In any event, hatred of certain key players is a good reason to hate a team, but not as much as the last one on the list.

4) Hatred of Cheaters

Alright, perhaps cheaters is a strong word, although not in all cases. Sometimes teams have legitimately cheated to win. USC, The Sooners under Barry Switzer, The Patriots, etc. But othertimes teams haven’t so much cheated as gamed the system or took advantage of loopholes, or competitive disadvantages to win. The Yankees are a great example of this. Yes, it is technically playing by the rules for the Yankees to go out and buy whatever player they want, but lets be honest. How many teams can truly afford a $200 million dollar payroll? Four, five maybe. Most teams can’t simply add an A-Rod, then add a Teixera, then add a Nick Swisher, then add a C.C. Sabathia, the re-sign Jeter, then…You get the idea. Most teams have to make a decision. I can keep this guy, or this guy. The Yankees don’t have to make that choice, they can keep everybody. This gives them an unfair advantage over the vast majority of teams. Yes, what they do is legal under Baseball’s CBA (the dumbest one in sports) but you can understand why so many fans of other teams hate them for this.

Another great example of this is the Miami Heat’s acquisition of their Big 3. As of yet we do not know for certain if this a case of collusion (although I firmly believe it is) but it is easy to see that both LeBron James and Chris Bosh got together with Dwyane Wade and Pat Riley and conspired to send their talents to south beach while spurning all other potential suitors. Whether or not they played by the rules, it is a cheap, and manipulative way to get together to win a championship, especially in a sport that has designed rules to try and prevent superstars from teaming up, because basketball is so dominated by just a handful of players. There are plenty of NBA fans who don’t care a lick about Cleveland or Miami that were put off by the way this thing went down. At worst they cheated to build this team, at best they worked the system to build their own superteam. A million dollars says in the new CBA being hammered out this summer, their will be very restrictive rules put in place on player movement. You will never see a sham deal like this again.

In other cases like the Patriots taping film sessions, or baseball teams stealing signs, the cheating may or may not directly lead to success, but it is still seen as a douchey thing to do, and meritous of sports hate. Hating the Giants, or Yankees, or Rangers, or other teams because of steroid use would also fall into this category. In short, any time a team or players cheat or game the system to get ahead, and have an unfair advantage because of it, you are entitled to real hatred there.

So okay, that wraps up the index, now you can use this in a very scientific way to see who you truly hate. For each category rank the team you hate on a scale of one to ten. You may discover that a team you hate doesn’t really score that badly, and is therfore not deserving of hatred. On the other hand teams like the Heat manage to score high in every single category. Using this list, and scoring them one to forty I have compiled my personal S.H.I.T. list for the teams I hate the most. Here they are

1) The Miami Heat: Score of 38

Hate this team. I have true jealousy because they will probably win two or three titles at least. I hate their players (Wade because of 06, LeBron for the decision), I believe they have an unfair advantage, brought about through collusion, and they are now a real rival, having played the Mavs in the Finals two of the last five seasons. I only gave them an eight on the rival scale because we did beat them, but overall they are as close to a total package of hate as you can get.

2) The New York Yankees: Score of 36

All of the reasons for the Heat, but I only scored them a six on the jealousy meter, because frankly I don’t think their that good anymore, and I think the Rangers have a better team. I don’t fear this club like I once did.

3) The Steelers: Score of 28

This is a great rival historically of the Cowboys and I am jealous out the ass. But I can’t say the Steelers have cheated in any way to earn their success, and I only hate a few of their players

4) The Patriots: Score of 26

The Patriots scored high in every category except one. They are not really a natural rivalry in any way to the Cowboys, although you could consider them a rival when comparing dynasties. Still, there is something about this team I really hate.

5) The Spurs: Score of 22

This one would be a lot higher a few years ago when they still had Bruce Bowen, and when they were a better team, but I am still jealous of their success, they are a true rival to the Mavericks, and I still hate Manu Ginobili a lot.

Okay that is it. Who do you hate in sports? Maybe this list can help you out.


Jack B.