Enjoying the fall of an empire

Hatred is the ugly mask of jealousy and the only way to escape vilification and being the target of some investigation in sports is to lose or find a way to be irrelevant. Most teams that stay in the spotlight for too long end up being hated by fans and investigated by ethics committees or even congress.

 

The bottom line is that we like to see teams rise and fall, so when a team stays on top for too long we find a way to help them fall. What it comes down to is that as a species we get jealous and we don’t tolerate someone else’s team keeping ours from getting a shot.

 

How many people hate the Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Royals or the Minnesota TImberwolves? How many NCAA investigations involve San Diego State or Rutgers?

 

On the other hand, how many people hate the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox or the LA Lakers? How many NCAA investigations take on schools like Oregon or LSU?

 

Jealousy does a lot of things and turns us into something we don’t want to be. When the Patriots win three Super Bowls in five years and Tom Brady goes from a scrawny sixth -round pick and a heartwarming story to a GQ, Giselle-marrying superstar, people look for chinks in the armor.

 

It even affects people that are close to them personally and professionally. Terry Francona managed the Red Sox and brought them to two World Series wins in four years and the first since 1918 for a team and a city that endured many heartbreaks. If I say Bill Buckner and you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google it.

 

This season the Sox had an epic collapse and lost a nine game lead in the wild card over the last month of the year and missed the playoffs as they lost again on the final day of the season. As a team with a payroll second only to the Yankees, this was unacceptable and vengeance is being dished out by anonymous sources left and right even as we speak.

 

In an interview on ESPN, former Red Sox great Curt Schilling said it could have only come from someone close to the team like a trainer, a team doctor or someone up at the top.

 

The always-friendly and buddy-to-everyone Francona has been the whipping boy of choice the past few days as stories of his allowing alcohol consumption by players during games, his marital troubles, including his alleged moving out of the family home and into the team hotel, and even stories of his alleged painkiller addiction. Why is all this coming out now after their collapse and not when they were winning titles?

 

Before jumping on board and piling on, when we hear stories like this we need to take pause and look at ourselves and what we believe in. Rather than finding a way to separate our fandom and our personal life, we should pattern our fanaticism after who we are and what we want to become.

 

The next time there is a dramatic rise and fall of a team or an icon think about what could be said about who you are and what you’ve done and hold off on judgment. When we pause and respond without jealousy, it’s a lot easier to lose the ugly masks and remove hatred from our sporting experience.

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