Fan-Hate and Hate-Hate

Sport-Hate

“It used to be the case that fans of Auburn University’s football team would gather after victories at Toomer’s corner in Auburn, Alabama, to throw rolls of toilet paper into the historic oak trees there. The trees have been removed. Not because Auburn University wanted it that way: Harvey Updyke, a fan of the University of Alabama’s football team – Auburn’s hated cross-state rival – poisoned the trees in 2010. Updyke was caught when he called in to a local sports radio show to brag about the deed. He was charged with criminal mischief, desecrating a venerated object and damaging agriculture. Although he initially pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, he later made a plea deal in which he pleaded guilty to criminal damage of an agricultural facility. He served six months in jail, and was released in June of this year.” (Author: Joshua Shepherd – link to full article below).

When I read this article from Oxford University’s Practical Ethics blog at http://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/2013/11/the-morality-of-sport-hatred/ , I knew that I had found a kindred spirit and a subject that would resonate with Almanackers.

My hate list is too long to remember, let alone cite in full.  So I will keep it to 2 recent candidates to show how the distinction between fan-hate and hate-hate can oscillate over time.

I hate-hated Hayden Ballantyne.  This is not a small club to join.  But he was just so pushy, and aggressive, and annoying that I couldn’t help myself, M’Lud.  This was ludicrous because everything I hated about HB was totally consistent with Phil Matera, who I loved when he was the only forward option my Eagles had for several seasons.  When I thought about what really annoyed me about HB, I got the unnerving feeling that it was his extraordinary work ethic and commitment to extract everything from his limited physique.  He maximised every limited opportunity given.  I had squandered many over the course of my life.

Conclusion: I genuinely hated him because he reminded me of my personal flaws.  Of course I didn’t need to publically admit this.  I could blame it on his purple jumper and the lack of discipline that led to frequent suspensions.

Then a funny thing happened last season.  It became very clear to me that Ross Lyon had scared the living death out of HB and that he was now a totally focussed team player.  In the final at Kardinia Park he would run into every fracas with his chest bulging and his hands tied to his thighs with the invisible tape of discipline and fear (of his coach – not the opposition).

I started to secretly admire HB.  Not that I could say this within earshot of the Avenging Eagle, who would not collect a winning Lotto ticket if it came with a Fremantle postmark.  I started to think that we had walked a similar journey where our passions had constantly got us into trouble, but we had achieved some focus from this bitter experience.

Then came the Grand Final and HB failed spectacularly, playing undoubtedly the worst game of his career.  I was glad for many reasons.  I reflected on the cricket grand final where I shouldered arms to the third ball letting it take out my off stump, the week after my career top score in the semi final.  Or the Kadina golf club championships where I won the competition on the Saturday, and then could not feel my hands in the match play final on the Sunday when the cold front storms swept in off Spencer Gulf.

HB and I were shame-bonded in mutual humiliation and humility.  Just another life lesson to not get ahead of ourselves.  But it is a long road that has no turning.  We’ll both be back.

My other candidate is James Hird or LJ (Lord Jim) as I snidely refer to him at every opportunity.

I loved Hird as a player.  He was so elegant.  Like a classical god he seemed to effortlessly outmark taller and stronger men.  Like a chess master he could see the options three moves ahead of any mortal player or fan.  Then flawlessly execute the coup de grace’ with a raking 50 metre pass to the team-mate alone on the opposite flank.

Then he did it against my Eagles in the last quarter of a game that the Bombers had no right to win.  And he didn’t just finesse away our rightful win, he rubbed our noses in it with exultant celebration that seemed to revel in his own genius more than team victory.

He had become, in short, an arrogant prat.  The most contemptuous of beings in my moral lexicon.  I hate-hated him with a passion.  Overnight.

Hird was Narcissus seeing his reflection in a pool of water, and so entranced by its beauty that he is forever unable to lose sight of it.

The years that followed reinforced my hatred of Hird, as the ‘Chosen One’ mocked the ‘Prodigal Son’ metaphor in his return to “save” his benighted club from languoring in its mid-table misery.

Then joy of joys, this year his imperial over-reach and overweening pride manifested in the Drugs Scandal that overtook the Bombers.  While he steadfastly refused to concede that he could possibly have done anything wrong.

Nothing could shift Narcissus’ gaze from his own reflected beauty.  But at least I could finally adopt the role of Nemesis, the rival who had led Narcissus to this fate.  I take personal pride in having led the booing of Watson and Hird the night they came to Subiaco.  Other Eagles fans seated nearby looked at me strangely as I rose with a banshee scream as the Bombers ran onto the field.  They thought I had gone mad.  But in a season of team misery we all have to get our jollies where we can, so I feel sure that it was my personal commitment that encouraged 30,000 fellow sufferers to join me in pitiless condemnation.

So what am I to make of all this in the rational light of post-season days?  Two things.  Firstly like HB, that it says more about me than it does about LJ.  Hird was given every natural gift and made the most of every one of them.  Premierships, Brownlows, strong captaincy and now ruthless coaching leadership.  I think I detect the sin of envy, like a stye blinding my vision.

I fan-hated Hird initially because he had single-mindedly made the most of his bountiful gifts.  How dare he remind me of my own squandering by comparison.

But again, joy of joys, I was right.  No humiliation, not even 12 months disqualification, can blind Narcissus to the ever-narrowing vision of his own glory.  And Joshua Shepherd’s article (cited above – it is great reading for the reflective sports fan) gives a moral justification to my growing hatred.  Unfairness is one of the reasonable causes for sustaining hate-hatred.

Long may my hatred of the Purple Scum (leavened with unspoken admiration that makes it only sport-hate) reign; while my righteous indignation toward the Red and Black Scum will continue unabated for seasons to come (hate-hate that knows no bounds).

 

OK, I’ve opened the door.  Who do you sport-hate and who do you hate-hate?  Names will be accepted, but your reasons will be cherished and reverse psycho-analysed.

 

Thanks again to Bruce Berglund and the great people at New Books in Sport ( https://www.facebook.com/newbooksinsports ) who regularly lead me to these gems of international sports writing.

Comments

  1. Love the photo of a young Litza at the top of the piece.

  2. Love this topic!
    I will openly confess that the thought of introducing a grass killing substance to the Visy Park turf during their induction of Malthouse may have cross my mind once or twice….

  3. Thanks, Dips.

    Back on topic, Essendon sucks gigantic bowls of monkey dick.

  4. The H word is a horribly, powerful term, but Arjuna Ranatunga always evoked that response from me.

    Glen!

  5. Cat from the Country says:

    The guy who poisoned the trees is an idiot. Pity they didn’t put him away for longer!
    I don’t hate anyone. There are lots of people I don’t like. But mostly I don’t think about people I don’t like for very long. No profit in hating anyone.
    Just love my Cats!

  6. Phil Dimitriadis says:

    Daisy Thomas is high on the list at the moment. I wish him the same success as Mick McGuane had at the Blues.

    Wayne ‘Fucken’ Johnston. Every time against Collingwood he would play a blinder. He knocked out Gubby Allen early in the 1981 GF and barely a word has been said about that heinous act. It cost us that Premiership. Bastard!

  7. mickey randall says:

    The hate in sport issue was most tellingly illustrated to me at the 2002 preliminary final between Adelaide and Collingwood at the MCG. Of the 80,000+ there only about a quarter were Crows fans. Collingwood won. I was with a couple mates, and one had on a Crows scarf. This, apparently, was sufficient identification.
    As we left we were spat at and screamed at by Collingwood supporters. My subsequent thought was to feel sorry for them, as they had just won a tough game of footy, had secured a spot in the grand final, and they did not celebrate these things, but chose hostility and too concern themselves with what the minority, the opposition supporters. They should have been jubilant, but were putrid.
    That type of mind is unknowable to me.

  8. John Butler says:

    Ah Lord Boge, good to see the scar tissue is still raw. :)

  9. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Kurt Tippett is not on the top of my Christmas card list and hate that Murali was allowed to chuck which changed the face of cricket for ever
    I concur with, Mickey above I will give and take banter as a supporter during the game but do not understand actions described by , Mickey that is a disgrace

  10. Dips – you are colour blind. The kid is wearing St Kilda colours. Its a family snap of me with hair in 1969.
    Danni – justified fan hate.
    Litza – justified hate hate. Shows how smart we both are to have picked this years in advance of the drugs scandal. It was just a clever front for decades.
    Glen – Hall of Mirrors time.
    CC – no hate, not even fan hate?? What are you doing reading the Almanac? Shambala Sun link got mixed?
    LB – Daisy is understandable fan hate. Dominator is justified hate hate – like Litza and I you picked this years in advance of the truth coming out.
    MR – Hall of Mirrors for you. Ever worn black and white at Footy Park? Your day was a walk in the park. I barracked for the Crows at Subi one day when they beat the Dockers. Best footy day of my life. Nearly got lynched when they saw I also had an Eagles carry bag. I told the baying mob that I just enjoyed seeming them lose. Didn’t seem to mollify them.
    MR – Justifiable hate hate. My enemy’s enemy etc.
    Rulebook – Tippett is clearly justifiable hate hate. Hall of mirrors for you on Murali. I hope with Murali you were trying to say you hate the spineless ICC. Murali is a great man and competitor whose humility and skill graced the game and honoured the Tamil people. The bowling action is not his fault, and the game would have been much poorer without him. The doosra needed to be outlawed as it necessitates a bent arm, not Murali.
    Regards,
    Dr Freud

  11. Love the man but hate-hate the idea that one of my all time favourite Cats, Chappy, will be running around with the Keilor Park Peptides next year.

    Sort of reminds me of the Abilene paradox where various lukewarm, but reasonable-sounding suggestions were put forward by a group only to find that the worst possible course of action (a trip to Abilene that everyone hated) was chosen.

    Chappy going to Essendon is my trip to Abilene. Might have to leave the country for a while to get over it. Texas won’t be on the itinerary.

  12. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Peter will agree to differ re the game better with out Murali it is nothing personal but I hate that world cricket was so pathetic and scared of the, Asian countries that he was not banned years ago the game of cricket is so much poorer for allowing chucking to become the norm cricket records and results have changed and careers ended .
    Players speak highly of Murali as a person but every , 1 of them privately says they hate the epidemic of chucking which is now in the game as a result

  13. Luke Reynolds says:

    With Danni on Grumpy Mick. Not the fact he went to Carlton, just the way he has handled himself since 2011.

    The West Indies of 1991 were very much hated by me after the controversial run out of my hero Deano after he was bowled off a no-ball. It’s hard to hate the Windies for too long though.

    Aker. Enough said.

  14. Murali might be a nice bloke, but the fact he was allowed to throw the ball, for many years does not endear him to me. His captain Mr Ranatunga, who’s myriad of ways of distorting the spirit and rules of cricket, sits even lower in my opinion.

    Glen!

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