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Patrick Hruby

Atlantic Sports Roundtable: Pass the Haterade!

A wise man -- probably Jesus; possibly President Obama when dealing with Congressional Republicans during the first two years of his administration -- once said to turn the other cheek. Which, of course, is exactly the wrong thing to do as a sports fan. Particularly when the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Yankees and Duke basketball are involved.

In this week's Atlantic Sports Roundtable, we discuss a subject near and dear to my blackened, bile-bleeding heart -- the many-splendored joys of sports hatin':

Hampton Stevens: ... Ah, spring, when a young man's fancy turns to... hate. Not real hate, of course. That will rot the soul. But the silly, fantastically cathartic faux-hate of certain players and teams that gives sports fandom so much meaning. Hating Kobe Bryant's Lakers, for instance. Seeing L.A. get bounced from the NBA playoffs, losing four of five games to the Thunder, was pure joy—almost as much fun as it will be to watch their roster get completely gutted again this summer ...

Jake Simpson: ... I'm looking at you, Boston and Philadelphia. You are the Sodom and Gomorrah of sports. Where do I start? The snowballs Eagles fans threw at Santa Claus? The time the Philly crowd booed local boy Kobe Bryant (a product of heralded Lower Merion High School) after he won the MVP at the 2002 NBA All-Star Game? The beer bottle that smashed into a wall two inches above my head the last time I went to Fenway Park, all because I was singing "New York, New York" after the Yankees beat the Red Sox? OK, I guess I understand the last one. But the fan bases of these two cities are the absolute worst, and I have nothing but hate for every sports team from both towns. Show me a Philly or Boston participant in the Little League World Series, and I'll boo them too. The only positive outcome to the current Celtics-76ers playoff series would be every player simultaneously tore his ACL ...

Patrick Hruby: ... Sports hatred is engaging. As a fan, it gives you -- to borrow a favorite phrase of flat tax, soak-the-poor conservative television pundits everywhere -- more skin in the game, more chances to experience a vicarious thrill. Sing when your team is winning; sing when the team you can't stand is losing, too. At its core, sports is contrived drama, same as the movies and reality TV. All are more entertaining with a villain. (Star Wars with Darth Vader? I am your father. Without Darth Vader? Yippee!) Moreover, some psychologists contend that sports hatred -- the silly, theatrical, overwrought kind Hampton described, not the deranged variety found in lousy Wesley Snipes-Robert DeNiro flicks—is actually healthy, because it allows us to vent the very real frustrations and disappointments of our very real lives in an essentially harmless way.

Read the full article at the Atlantic online