Posted by: Nathan | July 14, 2007

Negative Fanship

Most people who enjoy sports fan their own teams—teams of which they are fans. For me, it’s the Cubs, Broncos, Penguins, and Hawkeyes. Having teams that one roots for every season is certainly not a bad thing, but I also have teams I root against—negative fanship.

Negative fanship is more than just hoping a given team doesn’t succeed: it’s a malevolent, persistent ill-will. The negative fan roots against a team under any circumstances. If a the hated team is winning, the rooting against becomes almost rabid; if the despised team is losing, there is a sadistic joy and a hope for continued failure. Sometimes the negative fanship turns against individual players, even to the extent that one wishes injury on a player and/or rejoices when an injury takes place.

I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that I practice negative fanship. There aren’t too many teams I consistently root against, but once a club is on my bad side, I despise them for years. Here’s a current list of teams against which I always root:

1. New York Yankees. The press loves them, they always win (by buying the best players from other teams), and they have the most World Series titles. With 26 titles, they have more than twice that of the second place team all-time (St. Louis with 10). It’s going to take a Cubs-like century of losing before I could even feel pity for this team. Get ’em outta here. I hate them.

2. New England Patriots. My most despised NFL franchise. Ever since they took 3 Super Bowls out of 4, I cannot help but wish them ill. I’m tired of everyone slurping up to Brady and Belichick (and his stupid sweatshirts). I wish them 25 consecutive losing seasons. Boo!

3. St. Louis Cardinals. This one was pretty much thrust upon me because I’m a staunch Cubs fan; you’ve got to hate the Cards. Really, though I don’t hate them too much because they haven’t been a dynasty. Still, I’m always glad to see them go down.

4. Dallas Cowboys. This once burning hatred for one of the NFL’s great franchises is slowly waning to a small flame, but I still am no fan of “America’s Team.” America’s team indeed. What arrogance! Too bad your star QB can’t hold a long snap…

5. Los Angeles Lakers. First of all, your team’s name is almost as dumb as the Utah Jazz. There isn’t much jazz in the heart of Mormon country, and isn’t LA closer to the ocean? But this is really about another traditional power of whom I’ve grown sick. So many championships with Magic and Kareem, then Kobe and Shaq. These last few years of Laker misery have been enjoyable. And Kobe’s a punk, cheap-shot artist, which no one who is honest can deny.

6. There are a host of college teams I dislike as well, but they usually differ. Right now, I’m totally opposed to Florida (so tired of those guys). I also can’t say I like Wisconsin or USC in football. And I despise Duke in basketball. I suppose there are others.

Okay, I got side-tracked there by some ranting, but the real question I want to ask is: is it bad to root against teams? I would say there’s nothing shameful about having a favorite squad and hoping for their success, but rooting for another team’s failure? It seems a little too evil, yet I engage in it every year. What say you, dear reader? Should I make a concerted endeavor to eradicate such malevolence from my sports fanship?


  1. I don’t really engage in this like you do, I’ve discovered…I can’t really, really hate teams like you can. There are teams I dislike, but I don’t take pleasure in their downfall. I like seeing really quality play, even if it’s coming from powerhouse teams. In fact, I’d like to see Kevin Garnett with Kobe in L.A. because it’d be incredible to watch, I don’t care that they’ve won a million championships! I’m don’t like the Yankees, like everyone else in the U.S., but I can’t find it in myself to root against teams simply because they’re good!!! There’s a certain element in watching the best at their best that I love (Duke, Tiger Woods, Kobe when he’s on fire..) that I think you should work on a little more.

    That being said, teams that buy all the best players like the Yankees are hateable, and repeat winners get boring… but the root of the problem in MLB is really with the head honchos for allowing no salary cap to exist. But I can’t hate other teams like Patriots because they are a solid unified team that didn’t buy up everyone they could!

    I guess it just comes down to this: I’m a more appreciating, accepting, wonderful fan that you are…but to each his own!

  2. A more wonderful fan, eh little brother? At least you’re humble.

    I think you’re right about appreciating true talent more; for some reason, I have no problem with Tiger winning all the time (I know Dan does), but for team sports, I always want egalitarianism. Dynasties are so boring. We already know they can win championships; when they do so all the time, every season seems the same. Dynasties are only exciting when they win their first championship (I didn’t hate the Pats when they won their first) and when they’re knocked off.

    Still, a little more appreciation for great teams would save me a lot of stress. I know J’s on your side.

  3. I, too, don’t always share your malevolence toward certain teams. I do revile the “Yanks and Sawx,” but don’t have quite your hatred of the Patriots. As you point out, I think it would probably be better for your enjoyment of sports if the dislike weren’t so fervent.

    That said, I enjoy watching sports with you because you’re so involved and fervent. Remember, the word ‘fan’ is short for ‘fanatic’. Few things are better than a good anti-Patriots rant from Nathan.

    I think that, rather than a contempt for great accomplishment, your contempt stems from the oversaturation of the four-letter network, which gives us all Yankees, Patriots, Red Sox, Cowboys all the time. ESPN latches on to what it thinks its fans want (cf, this “What’s Now” garbage) and doesn’t let go. It’s irritating that the Cardinals have been great for a few years, but haven’t gotten nearly the coverage that the Yanks/Sawx get (notwithstanding your default dislike of the Cards, of course).

    I also note with interest that you don’t have a favorite NBA team. 🙂

    What I want to know is which players make your hateable list. Kobe’s obviously on there. I know Bonds is, too. Others?

  4. You’re absolutely right about the “Who’s Now” segment on SportsCenter lately. The other day found Stu Scott trying to argue that some surfer was more “now” than LeBron James. Absurd. That aside, how can anyone be “now?” SC’s really gotten out of hand lately. Guys, the highlights and analysis are all the entertainment we need.

    Your point about over-hype is also well received. ESPN and others are so myopic in coverage.

    As for your final question about individuals, I’m afraid to answer; it might take me some time, and I’m trying to move away from negative fanaticism. I’ll give a short list: Tom Brady (wins too much, but a good guy), Bonds (obvious cheater), Kobe Bryant (punk), Terrell Owens (spoiled jerk), Derek Jeter (I’ll always treasure his look of disbelief after the 2001 Series!).

    I really don’t care about the NBA enough to have a team for which to cheer.

  5. Do you still hate the packers with the fervency you once did? I hated them a lot more when the would beat the 49ers in the playoffs, but that was a long time ago…I dislike them still, but not as much..

    Let me take a guess at some of the players Nathan hates, or at least used to…: Brett Favre, T.O., Deion Sanders, Michael Jordon (or maybe that was more of a hatred towards the bulls on their 2nd threepeat), Kobe and Barry Bonds for sure…He hated Jeff Gordon for a while, too. A bunch of Yankee players….

    While I’m at it, I’ll take a stab at some of Nathan’s favorites, too:
    MLB: Mark Grace (before leaving Cubs)
    NHL: Mario Lemieux
    NBA: Any white guy! Larry Bird…I think we both share an affinity towards everyone’s favorite Dunking Dutchman Rick Smits
    NFL: This one’s a little tougher…I gotta go with Barry Sanders, even though he wasn’t with the Eagles. I think Ricky Watters was up there for a while when he was with the Philadelphia…maybe McNabb now, I dunno

  6. I was writing that last comment while Nathan wrote his above it! Unbelievable! Nathan, apparently you don’t hate Brett Favre, Deion and Jeff Gordon any more, but I’m pretty sure you did before

  7. Oh yeah, I definitely had a dislike toward those fellas. Neon Deion continues to annoy as a commentator; CBS has the worst group of halftime guys. I do remember the Favre and Gordon dislike, but as the Packers have sucked for years (sorry, Nate) and NASCAR has fallen off my radar, I no longer care.

  8. I think most of us naturally root for underdog teams and against dynasty teams unless you are a diehard Yankee or a diehard Duke fan. I know that whenever I grew up in the late 60’s and early 70’s, I was a huge Dallas Cowboys fan mainly because they never could seem to win the “Big Games”. I know that the team started in 1960 and did not win a single game, but I think they tied one game. Their record that first year was something like 0-10-1. It did not get much better until 1966, but they did manage to get to the NFL championship game two years straight only to lose both of them. When they finally got to their first Super Bowl in 1971, they lost that one to the Baltimore Colts in the final seconds. I guess one reason I rooted for them was because then they were always the underdogs trying to win their first championship game. They finally won their first Super Bowl in 1972 and have become somewhat of a dynasty. I still like them, but not as much as when they were one of the biggest underdog team out there. Another thing I liked about the Cowboys at the time was their players, especially, Roger Staubach, Bob Lily, Leroy Jordan, Chuck Howley, Walt Garrison, and of course their very fine coach Tom Landry. In my opinion Tom Landry was always a gentleman, and I never ever remember him showing his anger on the field or uttering any curse words. I admired him for being a gentleman whether he won or lost. I guess because the Yanks have won so much, I would probably root for whoever is playing them although I do not despise them.

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