Sunday, January 13, 2008

Passion remains when rooting against

By Jeff Glauser
The Phanatic Magazine

Have you ever seen those tee shirts – and the names, of course, vary – that say the following: “I Have Two Favorite Teams: The Eagles and Whoever Plays the Cowboys?”

Of course, I feel a bit conflicted ever admitting that the Giants can be considered a “favorite” team of mine, but let me tell you: It’s so true.

There was genuine glee to watch the likes of Jerry Jones and Terrible Owens leave their home stadium as losers. And I guess the more smug they – and people like them – tend to be throughout the year, the more vindicating it is to see them defeated.

So much for that presumed cakewalk into February, huh, Dallas (insert wicked snicker here).

My long-awaited point is this: The Eagles’ season is long gone, and yet I’ve spent this weekend pulling for two teams with Gang Green-like passion. The Jaguars teased me for a while and the Jersey boys in blue came through.

It’s amazing what despising an opponent can do to raise the stakes of a game.

When a true favorite team has taken its vacation far sooner then we’d hope, it leaves die-hard fans just two options: Ignore the postseason or convince ourselves of reasons to pull for other squads.

Regardless of the sport, rooting for one team simply to spite another is an honored playoff tradition for most sports fans. Not only does it provide temporary escapism of recalling that our team once again came up short, it helps draw us in and keep our attention as if our team remained.

Without fail, every October, you can find me enthralled watching the latest ballclub knock the Yankees out before the chocking dogs can sniff another World Series.

Each spring (after I send out a search team to help me locate where I can find the NHL playoffs on my television), I look forward to the once-juggernauts Red Wings and Devils coming up short.

It can be 40 years from now and you’ll still witness me and my arthritic something supporting any team that can prevent the Lakers from advancing to the next round.

Simply enough, taking a legitimate stance against another team is part of the fun in being a fan. It allows those passionate feelings to still ring true. Some may call it sports infidelity but, hey, if your significant other keeps building up a night of unmentionable ecstasy only to claim a headache before reaching the promised land (and does it for, say 25 YEARS IN A ROW), oh, I’d say a passing fling with another is quite justifiable.

If nothing else, it ensures that we can all put the gun away and save the self-pitying call-ins to the local talk show for just a little while longer.

Therefore, for me at least, the Super Bowl can still be more than just an additional opportunity to eat, drink and mock the latest has-been artist on the halftime stage this year.

Luckily, I have already provided myself many a reason to hate the Patriots (could perhaps be a column of its own), so that gives me a clear pathway to pulling for the Chargers next week. As a Philly guy, going against the Giants is fairly obvious, as well, though the Packers have been a compelling story all season anyhow.

However, if the finalists result in the G-Men and Pats, well… it will take more than a couple cold showers for me to wash the guilt and shame of rooting for the former once again.

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