THE SPORTS DOCTOR- Class act: Nothing wrong with hating poor sports
On Sunday afternoon, my husband called from work to inform me Tiger was about to lose the PGA Championship. I did what I could, holding my breath and pinching my arm, but I couldn't help uttering a tiny yip of joy.
"That's not very nice," my husband said. "It's not classy to root against somebody."
I suffered a moment of confusion (Has the world come to an end?), and then realized my husband wasn't being empathetic; he was being a sore loser. And not only that, he was completely and totally wrong.
Let me be clear: my rooting against certain athletes or teams is not contingent upon my liking an opponent. ESPN's Pat Forde may have boldly admitted in his July 21 column that he rooted against Tom Watson at the British Open, but he wimped out in the whys and wherefores section with "First, I've always really liked [Stewart] Cink."
After gleefully declaring himself a hater, Forde devoted the majority of his column to kissing Watson's behind, pointing out that Watson was so good that he already had five Claret Jugs; he didn't need another. Forde called him a "great champion" and confessed he "enjoyed watching Watson." In fact, after claiming to really like Cink, Forde mentioned him only one more time, and that was to point out how pathetic his career had been.
Forde subscribes to my husband's point of view: in order to dislike one person, one must like his or her competition. To do otherwise lacks dignity and is a symptom of how far society has fallen when we hope someone fails simply for our enjoyment.
I must defy both ESPN and my husband. According to Urbandictionary.com, a hater is concerned with someone's being taken down a notch– it has nothing to do with competition. When Michael Vick topped a recent Forbes poll as the nation's most disliked athlete, did that have anything to do with Tom Brady? Of course not– just as Manny Ramirez's second-place finish didn't have anything to do with the Astros or the Braves.
Can't anyone be scrutinized anymore? Can't anyone be a bad apple or just rub us the wrong way? Why is not classy to hope someone loses?
When it comes to athletes or teams, I can divide my dislikes into two categories: rivals and poor sportsmen. I dislike the Cardinals because they're the Cubs' nemeses. I dislike Kobe Bryant because he's a selfish player and full of himself. Sometimes I find myself in conflict: I dislike Virginia Tech because I love UVA, but I want UVA football to lose because the school has allowed the program to fall into ruin and disrepute.
If I could change the Thrilla in Manilla so that Joe Frazier beat Muhammad Ali, I would do it. After all his disrespect, manipulation, and trashtalking, Ali deserved to lose. I wish he had.
When the New England Patriots played in the 2008 Super Bowl after having been found guilty of illegally taping other teams, you bet your bippy I wanted them to lose– and not because I liked the Giants, either.
My husband thinks I was happy Tiger lost because I resent the fact that he's the best golfer ever to play the game. Frankly, I don't care enough about golf to resent anyone for being good at it. My husband continues his argument by saying that calling Tiger a "poor sport" is "subjective garbage" and no reason to hope he loses.
I disagree. I think it's a very good reason.
Being a poor sport disrespects the game, the competition, and the fans. Tiger is such an egomaniac that he's not just a poor sport when he loses, which is bad enough– he could respect his opponent enough to show a little grace– but he's a poor sport when he's winning, which is even worse.
I root against Shaq, A-Rod, T-O, Tony Stewart, Floyd Mayweather Jr., David Beckham and yes, Tiger Woods. I root against anyone who lacks respect, sportsmanship, and chooses to act like a baby.
And you know what? I'm confident that's a pretty classy way to go.