Sports hate has always been something really tricky for me to navigate. I don’t know what it is, it’s just a little bit of a mental battle that I continually know I need to work on.

I think it’s probably natural if you’re a sports fan. I’m certainly not the only one.

And I’ve gotten a whole lot better than I used to be. Man, when I was in college, a few beers before the game and things would come out of my mouth that I am most certainly not proud of at this point in my life. Somehow, the sports hate line just blurred a little too close to sports hate.

I’ve been fortunate enough to go to a lot of football games, as I grew up living next to grandparents that started getting season tickets 60 years ago. So I’ve also witnessed my fare share of sports hate from afar. Again, that line just continually gets burned to the ground sometimes. Just because of the color jersey the person sitting next to me is wearing creates some sort of weird random barrier of humanity. 

Now, as I’ve gotten older and my self-awareness and social consciousness has kicked into a totally different gear, I’ve completely transformed my exterior actions when I’m at games. I still like a few beers before and during games, but I’ve been able to keep that filter in tact.

I sit here and write this, I’m watching the NFL AFC Championship game between the Chiefs and the Titans. As a lifelong Broncos fan, I’ve come to pretty much despise the Chiefs as much as the Oakland Las Vegas (… so weird to say…) Raiders. Division rivals, sports hate abounds.

But…. why? 

It’s always a kick to me (seemingly every year) to watch KC rolling into the playoffs on a high only to watch them blow it, year after year after year. I’m sure there’s some bragging rights thing in there, to know that because the Broncos have seen recent (albeit, distantly recent) success in the playoffs, there’s some part that just enjoys the rest of the division never seeing that type of success.

Yet somehow I’m perfectly fine with watching another totally random team see that same success KC continually longs for? Just because I have to see that particular team (usually made up of about 40-50% turnover in players every year, so it’s not as if it’s always just players) whup my Broncos ass twice a year.

The fact of the matter is, their fans are just like ours. People that just want to see their team have success. 

The players are just like ours. They want to be at the top of the mountain at the end of the year. 

And they’re a franchise that has not experienced the apex of what the sport has to offer in essentially 50 years. That’s even the last time they were even in the Super Bowl itself. So why am I still so dead-set on wanting to see bad things happen? Not injuries, of course… just really weird, fluky plays that continue the franchise’s tendency to blow it in big games. 

The Schadenfreude.

Happiness at the misfortune of others. 

On the bright side, I’ve gotten much better at calling myself on the bullshit. I’ve continually worked at putting myself in their shoes. Knowing that feeling of experiencing the pinnacle of what you can experience as a sports fan (something that, by the way… WE HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO FREAKING CONTROL OVER). 

It’s still a work in progress for me. For others, it’s a non-existent process. Over and over, I just see it take place at stadiums and arenas. Just absolutely cruel words and actions.

I get it, it’s competition. There’s a lot of testosterone that we as fans feed off of. 

But it doesn’t mean that we get to forget about the humanity that lives inside both sides. We have to learn how to get past that. The sore losing, the sour winning.

It’s all a choice… you get to choose how to win or lose. Because otherwise, sports hate turns to hate-hate a little too quickly.

Even if it’s baby steps. I know I sure had to take them. But I’m getting past it, and if/when the Chiefs reach that mountain top, it’s going to be damn hard… but I might be happy that their fans get to experience that exhilaration, joy and relief.


Like I said, it’s a work in progress. But it’s a choice that I think we all need to consider just a little bit.

Why is sports hate a thing?