Saturday, December 3, 2011

Rivalry Or Hate?

Ever since I was a little (okay, make that young) boy, I have loved sports. It started when Dad was watching the Packers back in the early ‘60s and I liked Paul Hornung because we shared the same first name and his uniform number was my age – 5. Yes, I’m THAT old. So we are talking close to five decades of sports infatuation. Over all those years I have become particularly fond of several teams, the Packers and the Brewers being my favorites.

Along with developing a fondness for certain teams, I have also formed a dislike for others. For some teams the dislike is much stronger, bordering on loathing, almost hate.

Those teams would be the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bulls. The reason? They play in the same division and are rivals of the teams I root for.

But wait. You are probably saying, what are the Chicago Bulls doing in that list?  They aren’t rivals of the Packers or the Brewers. They play basketball.

You would be correct; they don’t play football or baseball! Then why my vitriol toward them?

Believe it or not, I had to pause and ask myself that very question. The definition of rivalry is competition for the same objective or for superiority in the same field. Since I don’t follow the NBA anymore, the rivalry factor isn’t relevant.

Then why? Why do I have such an aversion for the Bulls along with the Cubs, Cards, Bears and Vikings?

I went to my handy thesaurus to find synonyms for rivalry.  Competitiveness, competition, contention, vying and opposition were the first entries. Those did not apply, so I continued on.

Next up were conflict, feuding, antagonism, friction and enmity. Now we’re talking! At one time or another all those words applied to all five of those teams.

The next thing I had to ask myself is why do I have those feelings toward those teams.

Do the athletes on those teams make me feel that way? No, not really. As individuals, I am pretty much indifferent toward most of them. Okay, there have been a few that I can’t stand.

Players like Dan Hampton, Jim McMahon, Steve McMichael, Mike Ditka, Jared Allen, Sammy Sosa, Carlos Zambrano, Tony La Russa, Albert Pujols Yadier Molina and Scottie Pippen to name a few.

Even so, there has to be more than disgust for a few of their athletes that causes me to feel such a deep contempt for the Cubs, Cards, Bears, Vikings and Bulls.

But what?

Because I am an avid fan of sports talk radio, I am inundated with the Chicago media. Reflecting a bit, I realized that there are a good number of Windy City broadcasters that have, at times, caused me to vomit in my mouth.

The names Dan Bernstein, Terry Boers, Les Grobstein, Harry Teinowitz, Bruce Levine, Len Kasper and David Kaplan immediately come to mind.

The pompous arrogance displayed by these guys as they spew their biased opinions is enough to make feel animosity toward the teams they publicize. Unless of course you happen to be a fan of those teams. Wait…

That’s it!

I have finally figured out why I feel such great disdain toward those teams. It’s not so much the teams themselves or their players, it’ their knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing fans. They are to blame for making me feel so jaundiced toward these particular teams.

Don’t get me wrong; not all the fans of those teams are vile and despicable. I personally know many wonderful fans of the Cubs, Cards, Bears, Vikings and Bulls. They are good people. But for every Patty, Bill, Reenie, Randy, Mary Beth or Rob, there is a score of the other type.

Speaking of “score”, let’s talk about the meatball fans that call WSCR, 670 the Score. They are, for the most part, an obnoxious and unsavory lot filled with venom. Plenty of “We” talk when their Chicago teams are winning. When they’re not winning they want to replace everyone, but never have a replacement in mind. Jerks.

Moving up the dial to 720 you get the veteran WGN crowd. They are ignorant and out of touch with anything that happened after 1985. Reality has passed them by. After last Sunday’s Bear loss to the Raiders, I heard one caller refer to 4-year NFL veteran Caleb Hanie as “that rookie Henning”. Hey pal, I think Walter Payton just scored…

Now that I have brought up Payton, let’s move on to ESPN’s WMVP 1000. That’s where Walter’s son, Jarrett broadcasts. From the little I listen to the station, he fits right in. Like most of the hosts, he would rather hear himself talk than take calls. Therefore, the WMVP fans get a pass, although I am sure that they are as reprehensible as those calling WSCR and WGN.

When I first started writing this blog, I fully intended to focus on what’s behind sports rivalries. Honest, that was my intention. Instead, it morphed into a rather cathartic piece on feelings.

Yes, after writing this, I have come to the realization that it’s not the Cub, Cardinal, Bear, Viking and Bull teams that I despise. No, it’s their media and their fans. They are the reason I cringe when those teams win and rejoice when they lose.

I feel much better now. Until next time…from the booth.



Anonymous said...

Great article, Paul. As far as I'm concerned, those HOF voters didn't get it. If they were going to vote Coach into the HOF, they should have done it while he was sucking air, not when he was taking the dirt nap. I didn't like Santo when I was a kid, because he stole some the the limelight from my all-time favorite player, Eddie Matthews. But that was just a kid's resentment. Santo played with Type 1 diabetes. I had a good friend who I played HS ball with in the 60's who had the same thing and I used to watch him administer those shots every day. I thought it sucked when I watched him. Can you imagine what it was like for him? Santo had comparable numbers to Robinson. He should have been voted in while he was still alive. He didn't play for a winner, and they penalized him for that ever after.
Kool Papa

Paul E. Vagnoni said...

Thanks, John, i appreciate that. When you said "Coach", I thought you were referring to Craig Tabbert and I got worried.

By the way, I just noticed your comment is attached to the blog previous to the one about Santo…