This guest post is brought to you by a new Twitter friend, Ben Zajdel. Ben is a graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas, works in a Christian bookstore, watches entirely too much basketball (PERFECTLY okay with me), and has written a few short books you might enjoy. You can keep up with him at his website, or on Twitter, @benzajdel.
I’ve been told my whole life not to hate people. It’s in the Bible, of course. It says there that hating someone is essentially like murdering them, or at least wanting to. My mom would scold me if I said I hated anything, including broccoli. Even my family doctor told me that hate was an ugly word when I informed him that I hated shots.
I understand their point of view. I don’t think I should dislike a person or a thing so much that it makes my chest burn, my eyes water, and my heart race. That’s obviously not healthy. I don’t advocate hating people, races, religious groups, politicians, cats, or Yankees fans, especially to the point of wishing them harm.
But there is something I call Sports Hate. It’s a little different. This type of hate doesn’t want to see anyone get hurt, or arrested, or any actual misfortune take place on a team or individual. This type of hate is much simpler, and a little less violent. When you Sports Hate a team or player, you just want them to lose. All the time. Sometimes it’s for good reason, like if they defeated your team in the playoffs the previous year. Other times it makes no sense whatsoever, and your hate simply springs from the way a guy cuts his hair. There are plenty of ways to develop Sports Hatred, and the longer you watch and play sports, you gain and lose some Sports Hate along the way.
Take Dwyane Wade. Ever since he and Bennett Salvatore conspired to steal the 2006 NBA Finals from my beloved Dallas Mavericks, I have had an immeasurable amount of Sports Hate for him. I think he’s a cry baby. I think his stupid “Eurostep” move is blatant traveling. I think his name is spelled wrong. He can do nothing right in my eyes, and I will forever root against the Miami Heat as long as he is on the team. No matter how much I like Lebron James.
There’s also those USC Trojans, out there on the West Coast. Can’t stand them. Their stupid colors, their laid back “Cali” attitude. Why? Because back in 2005 season, my University of Texas Longhorns played them in the National Championship Game. After Vince Young (may his career rest in peace) defeated what was supposed to be the greatest dynasty in a decade, USC quarterback Matt Leinart claimed that he still felt the Trojans were the better team. So of course I flipped my Sports Hatred switch and vowed to root against USC and Matt Leinart for the rest of my life.
It’s important, though, to recognize the difference between Sports Hate and that regular old unhealthy hate. I have to remember that I don’t actually know Dwyane Wade, and therefore I can’t make any informed decisions as to his character. I can take what I learn about him in the media into account, but that doesn’t mean I actually know him as a person. From what I understand, Wade is a committed father and very active in the community. He might be someone I would like if I knew him as a friend. So I don’t really hate him, and I never would wish any physical harm on him. Even a sprained ankle. But if he were to start averaging four points a game for the rest of his career, I’d be happy. Because I Sports Hate him.
At the end of the day, these are just games. It’s entertainment, something to occupy our minds for a few hours. If you truly hate someone simply because they score a lot of points or pitch really well against your favorite team, you might want to invest in some sort of counseling. Because that’s not healthy. Sports fans have to realize that while we watch these players on television and read about them in magazines, we don’t really know if they are good or bad people. We only know our own feelings about them, and that is something we can actually control.
So root against the Dwyane Wades and the USCs of the sports world. Cross your fingers and hope that they never win another game. But don’t let your emotions get out of control and reach a point where you actually want something bad to happen to a person. That’s true hate. Make sure you remember that sports are meant to be enjoyed, so you only Sports Hate those heinous villains who constantly torpedo your favorite teams.