Earlier during the day, I was talking to some of my friends about the upcoming games this weekend and almost all of the responses were the same – go Steelers and &%$# the Ravens and &%$# the Patriots. Some other people though were on the opposite side hoping that the Steelers lose. Last month, I wrote a piece on the measure of a fan and what all comes with it. One part of ‘fanhood’ that I should have spent more time on is why we hate the teams we do? If you are a Steelers fan, you hate the Ravens, Browns, Bengals and Patriots. The teams in the division make sense, but why the Patriots? It’s because of the lack of success against them. Same being said for a lot of the NFL, everyone loves their own team and wants them to succeed. The next sweetest thing to seeing your team win however is seeing the team you hate lose. Noone hates the Bills or Lions, in fact, we feel sorry for them. The teams we hate are all winners. The Steelers Nation hates the Patriots because like it or not, they have your number, each and every time.
Is it jealousy that is causing us to feel this way? In my case, yes, I believe that has a lot to do with it. For everyone that knows me, they know I am an avid Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pittsburgh Penguins and Oregon Duck fan. Needless to say, minus the Pens, I haven’t witnessed to many happy endings of sporting seasons. So as a football fan, am I jealous of the Steelers and Patriots? Yes I am. I can say I like the Patriots and the way they play, even though they handed us a Super Bowl loss. The jealousy extends especially to the Steelers since they are in the same state and I have to hear it from my friends every season. 6-burgh, 6-burgh and 6-burgh. Heaven forbid if their team loses though, it won’t be because the other team was better, but because the refs lost it for them or the other team cheats. As jealous as I am of the Steelers success, I can admit they are a great franchise and can only wish the Eagles can reach their level.
Is there other reasons that we hate the teams that win? Is it simply because of the fact that they do win and we are tired of seeing them on top? Take in the baseball world the New York Yankees. You either love them or hate them and their 27 World Series. Same with the Atlanta Braves. I had to watch them all the time growing up and hear about their 14 consecutive division titles. Although I respect it and it’s a remarkable feat, I can’t say I wasn’t looking forward to it ending following the 2005 season. In the NBA, it’s the same way with the Lakers as it is with the Detroit Red Wings in hockey. We want the best teams to lose and get a sick and twisted joy out of it. Even if our favorite team doesn’t have a rivalry per say with the other franchise, we can still hold a grudge over one game. A perfect example is the ‘Tuck Rule’ game in Foxboro when the Patriots beat the Raiders on the controversial call. It was the correct call based on a stupid rule. To this day, almost 10 years later, Raiders fans can not let it go and continue to hold that hatred over it.
Hating teams is one thing because of the success, but why does it carry over to the players? A lot of the time, the players have no control over the team they are on. Pittsburgh praises Ben Roethlisberger but hates Tom Brady because he doesn’t lose to the Steelers. What if Ben was on the Pats and Brady in Pittsburgh? Would the feelings switch – Absolutely. If Ben had been on any other team in the league, the fans would be on him as quickly as they were on Ray Lewis, Michael Vick, Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods or ‘Pacman Jones. We all hear the jokes come up on a consistent basis, but as soon as someone mentions Roethlisberger or Jerome Bettis’s off the field problems, we treat them as if they are saints and as if they never happened. ‘He wasn’t convicted’ and ‘all he did is what any guy would do’ is what the defense is. Really? It’s to the point that when a team tragedy such as Ed Reeds brother being presumed dead after jumping into the river after a chase by the police becomes a joke to Steelers fans saying the Ravens players should pay tribute to him by drowning themselves in a river and we have 3 to choose from.
This isn’t a Pittsburgh fan bashing article at all because any city you go to, those fans exist. It is just a thinking device to find out why we want to see the other teams and players suffer but for ours to win at all costs. Trash talking and cheering against your rivals and opponents is a great part of the game and is one of my favorite parts. When off the field issues start becoming part of talk, I’ve been more than guilty of this myself, that’s when we need to realize that at the end of the day, it is just a game. So whoever wins this week and cements their spots in their respective conferences title game, the love and hate will soon follow. Keep hating the winners and keep pulling for the losers. Just remember, it is just a game and keep the feelings on the field.
About the Author
Written by Michael Waterloo
I'm currently pursuing my Master's degree in Communication and Journalism from Clarion University. I currently work for Ohio Valley Athletics where I serve as the West Virginia Football Beat Writer and cover West Virginia Men's Basketball as well. I'm a big Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers and Oregon Ducks fan. Follow me on Twitter at @MichaelWaterloo or visit www.ovathletics.com