1.21.2011

The Joy and Agony of Sport Rivalries

I was recently asked why fans of both the Packers and Bears are getting so ridiculously amped up, talking mad trash, and acting like their team will for sure win. Because, obviously, one of the teams will lose, and then those fans will feel embarrassed and be more upset than normal, by having spewed venom all week towards the winning opponent and their fans.

My answer: "Because it's fun!"

Well, truth is, I didn't have a better on the spot answer. That's all it is, fun. The trash talking, is fun. The ribbing of the other team, and being ribbed back, well, it's fun! When your team defeats the opposing team, it makes the victory that much sweeter. Likewise, losing to a team you've spent a lifetime "hating" can be devastating!

But, that question did make me think a little bit. Why do we fans put ourselves through this? The simple answer, the joys of winning far outweigh the pains of losing. The joy of winning is true joy in a fan's life, but losing? Well, I said the word "devastating" earlier, but almost all of us realize that it is just a game, and in the grand scheme of life, losing a sporting event means nothing. So while we're truly joyous over victories, our lives are not truly devastated over losses.

Would I be happy if the Packers won this Sunday regardless of who they were playing, yes, I'd still be ecstatic! So, why have we sports fans, throughout the country, created these heated rivalries that could potentially let us down more than if we didn't have them? I think for those that wonder that, you need to ask these questions: Why see a tear-jerker if it just makes you sad? And why see a horror movie, if it's going to scare you? No one likes to be sad or terrified, right? Yet for the sake of entertainment, we enjoy it. Another example: Why should I like one person and hate another person in reality shows? Neither have done anything to me personally, but I feel "love" and "hate" almost the same as if I've known them my entire life, so I tune in each week to hope 'Person A' is voted off and that 'Person B' continues the game. Having these feelings, and creating a vested interest, makes the reality show that much more interesting, and thus, more entertaining.

Sports is exactly that, entertainment! We fans enjoy the complex range of emotions that sports brings, and having a "villain", like in any good movie, drives the entertainment value up. Winning is great, but winning against a rival is even better. Similarly, losing sucks, but losing to a rival, is painful. It's the range of emotions that sports brings, that keeps up coming back for more. Think of it as an ongoing soap opera, the "villain" might have won this round, but eventually "good" will prevail. And like any good soap opera, the "villain" doesn't just go away, no, they keep coming back. And no matter which side you decide is the "villain" or the "hero", the Packers vs Bears "soap opera" is the longest running in all of professional football, having been played 181 times over 90 years, so the seeds of "hatred" run deep throughout generations.

Of course, In my case, and in most of our readers' case, let's hope good prevails once more in a "season finale" of sorts: GO PACK GO!

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