One of the first things we do when we get into the world of sports is picking our favorite team. Like Eric Cantona said, "You can change your wife, your politics, your religion, but never, never can you change your favorite football team.” It is a very poetic and beautiful thought but let's be honest - sometimes it might be taken too seriously.
People have this psychological phenomenon to think that everyone who is not with them is against them. Also, the media thrives on creating sports rivalries, and that adds to the feeling that the opposing team consists of villains. That's how this "heroes vs villains" attitude becomes a reality. That's how the Boston Celtics true radical fans cannot stand the Los Angeles Lakers fans. That's how Manchester United hooligans attack Liverpool fans for no reason (and vice versa of course). And it seems that people don't mind this kind of behavior.
I don't want to get too deep into the discussion of soccer ultras in countries like Serbia or Poland. Only one rule exists for those ultras - you are either going to kill or get killed. And I don't support this kind of attitude, but I get it. I mean, when you see some players celebrating a victory and drinking champagne straight from the bottle when your team has just lost, it makes you angry at first. At least that is the primal human emotion in such situations. And instead of congratulating the opposing team with a victory, most people look for the ways to blame their rivals for something irrelevant. That creates tension. And tension creates problems.
Of course, we all understand that there can be only one winner in any sport and that means that every other team/athlete is not a fellow but rather a competition to your favorite team/athlete. And we are taught from the young days that we must overcome any competition no matter what. Sadly, that "no matter what" part makes all the difference. Only a few people manage to lose with pride, congratulate their opponents, and stay fair and professional. I guess we all respect those people. However, others just let their frustration out by attacking the winners.
We can take the NBA for example. Today, The Warriors became the evil team full of terrible people (Durant especially), and the remaining teams are full of heroes who try to defeat the evil. Of course, the biggest hero of all is LeBron James. Even I caught myself supporting LeBron lately because people made him into a superhero. Needless to say, the media love this approach, which is full of emotions and make people way more interactive and participating. Extra money guaranteed.
It has been a while now since I have begun appreciating the sports in general rather than focusing only on my team's performance. Of course, I still have my favorite teams and that will never change. There are no doubts that I always support them as much as I can. However, when my team loses, I choose to appreciate the winning team and be happy for that team's supporters. After all, those people are just as human as me and their team's victory means just as much as my team's victory would mean to me. I would feel stupid being angry at the winning team. That is very unprofessional in my eyes.
Also, most of the professional athletes like and respect each other but it is the media that create those stupid rivalries to gather more attention. For example, Lithuanian swimming superstar Ruta Meilutyte against one of the best Russian swimmers Yulia Efimova. If you scrolled through the Lithuanian media, you would find millions of articles that are close to hate speech toward Efimova (of course, she has been caught using doping and that is not cool) and naturally, most of Lithuanians don't like the girl even though they have no idea who she is. However, Efimova and Meilutyte have said numerous times that they respect each other and have nothing against each other - they are neither friends nor enemies. And yet, the media still makes them look like enemies to create more drama before the important starts.
What do you think about this attitude? Do you openly hate your team's rivals or do you respect and appreciate them?