Recently I bumped into an old friend who lives in the Maryland area. He's a big Washington Capitals fan and since the Rangers had knocked out the Caps in the 2nd Round of the Stanley Cup playoffs I knew that he would have something to say.
When the conversation eventually got to hockey, he mentioned to me that his six year old son had been indoctrinated in sports hate. He told me that his son was upset when the Rangers eliminated the Capitals, but also that his son was elated when he read the paper the morning after the TB Lightning eliminated the Rangers. After reading the headline, his son gave a big fist pump. And as such, another sports fan had crossed the bridge from fandom to sports hate.
Don't get me wrong, I completely understand how once your team has been eliminated, you might feel a need to root against the team which ended your team's season. But occasionally, fandom crosses the line of fanaticism and people's jealousy or enthusiasm takes a more sinister turn.
A prime example would be the Lebron James "haters" who will criticize him for any reason, or for no reason at all. Yes, there were many reasons to dislike Lebron when he orchestrated his departure from Cleveland to Miami and left so many teams (and their fans) at the altar. But its now four years later and the prodigal son has returned to Cleveland. Lebron led the team back to the NBA Finals, with a supporting cast is not nearly as strong as it was in Miami. But people still nit pick and the media attempts to goad him into criticizing his teammates and/or coach. And the "twitterverse" explodes every time that he makes the smallest misstep. Because people just can't get enough baseless sports hate.
Perhaps the most extreme example took place last week in Glendale, Arizona. Although the NHL will never admit that it made a mistake, the Phoenix market clearly cannot support a hockey team. When the City Counsel voted to void the Coyotes' arena lease, a very impassioned fan made a speech to the Mayor and Counsel wherein she called out the Mayor for not being supportive of the team (click here for a link to the speech). And although her speech was inspiring, the later story from this week that she attended a charity event and tased the Mayor (click here for a link to the story) leaves me wondering whether she too has crossed the line of sports hate.
The senseless sports hatred reminds me of another senseless hatred/jealousy which we see in this week's Torah reading. Korach was one of the richest men and had an important and honorable job. Yet, when he got news that the position of nasi would bypass him he fomented a revolution which even carried along people who were not members of the tribe of Levi.
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