Thursday, October 25, 2012

Must I Love My (sports) Enemy?

There are some football teams I hate! I don't care if they never win another game! In fact, I'd kinda like if they never won another game.

In Australia, Collingwood tops that list for me, and apparently many other people. A lot of this is because MY team, The Mighty Blues, has been neck and neck with Collingwood for many years in the number of premierships won. But Collingwood has also played in an incredible 43 Grand Finals compared to Carlton's next best 29. (See table here.) It's as though it doesn't matter who else beats Carlton, as long as it's not Collingwood. (Essendon is a pretty close second though.)

In the US there's very little in the sports world that brings me more joy than watching the New England Patriots lose. Now I know that for many years the Patriots stunk. In fact, according to this table from 1960-1995 they only won their division 3 times ('78, '86, '94).

But around the time I arrived in the US the Patriots recruited Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. In the 11 years since 2001 the Patriots have won their division every year but two. This stretch has included 3 Superbowl wins ('01, '03, '04) and 2 Superbowl losses ('07, '11). In 2003 and 2004 the Patriots beat MY Colts in the playoffs. The Colts gained some revenge in 2006 when they beat the Pat's on the way to their own Superbowl victory.

The 3 playoff games in 4 years and the strong debate whether Brady or Manning is the better quarterback have solidified the rivalry between the teams. In fact, some would say that this is the greatest quarterback rivalry ever! For instance...
"Here are some of the amazing highlights (from this article):
  • Brady or Manning have represented the AFC in the Super Bowl in seven of the last 11 seasons.
  • The winner of the regular-season series between Brady's Patriots and Manning's Colts gained home-field advantage over the other team every year they've met (2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010).
  • The winner of the three post-season meetings between Brady's Patriots and Manning's Colts went on to win the Super Bowl all three times (2003, 2004, 2006).
As we said, no marquee quarterbacks in NFL history met so often in games of such consequence year after year."
As I said, I now hate the Patriots and love watching them lose. So you can imagine my horror when I watched a little of the Patriots v Jets game on Sunday and found myself hope the J-E-T-S would lose! Could I possibly hate the Jets more than the Patriots? Am I getting soft because the Pat's haven't won a Superbowl since 2004 and the Jets are just loud and obnoxious?

Anyway, it got me thinking... In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus told his followers to "love your enemies". I wonder how this applies to sports? Maybe you're like me and you create a little box that is everything sports and all kinds of things can happen within that box and it's okay because it's "just sports" not reality. I suspect we also have other similar boxes for music, movies, video games, etc. Our entertainment boxes allow us to have emotions and thoughts that we would feel guilty having or doing in "real life".

Are our lives really that compartmentalised? Did Jesus really add the fine print at the end of the Sermon "*The only exception to the above teachings are found on the sports field and other entertainment venues."

Of course, there's a line that can be crossed. Recently Kansas City Chiefs fans, unhappy with their quarterback's performance, cheered when he left the field with a concussion. Scoop Jackson provides  a good overview of the situation here. This prompted the team chairman, coach, and players to issue statements condemning the booing and defending the majority of fans who were silent.

It's one thing to long for big collisions in football and massive pileups in auto sports, but it's another thing altogether to cheer for injuries. Even if we're relieved a key player is unable to compete against us, it's still inhumane to wish them injury.

Then there's the even more extreme example of actual violence carried out due to sports results or affiliation. I think that's a no brainer for having crossed the line.

So I don't have all the answers, but I do have a genuine question. IS IT OKAY TO HATE OPPOSING SPORTS TEAMS AND PLAYERS?

PS. I only included pictures of Brady and the Magpies as a token effort to love my enemies!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment