It’s funny, and not funny ha ha (although maybe kind of funny ha ha), that the world of sports is the one place where people are still allowed, and sometimes expected to treat each other like trash, en masse, with very few repercussions. We push for fair treatment of one another in areas of race, religion, and politics, but when it comes to games, we attach ourselves to a team, and we fight the only way we can. We fight with blanket insults hurled like boulders from a trebuchet across the internet.
“Man, 49ers fans are a bunch of whiners!”
“Dodgers fans are just a bunch of thugs.”
“Lakers fans are douches.”
“You will never see me anywhere near someone who likes the Redwings. Never.”
I have a new game. It’s not really a fun game, and it’s not really a game, but indulge me. Whenever you think it’s a good idea to make a generalization about that group of sports fanatics from the opposing team, replace the name of said fanatics with the word women, or any minority of your choosing.
In fact, let’s try it now.
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Seriously, it’s cool. I have all the time in the world.
Yeah, I can hear those gagging noises. I can sense your feelings of disgust as they roll through you.
The above phrases when seen under the microscope of racism and misogyny are sick. They’re wrong. I’d be the first person to have a stern talking to with any of my friends who said them. Why, then, is it okay to say this kind of stuff about people on the other side of a stadium? It could be because sports are inherently competitive, and competitive events bring out the worst in people. We feel the need to defend our tribe, and the best way to do that is to strike at the apposing tribe with gusto! They’re striking back equally as hard, so what does it really matter?
It matters because somewhere, it’s being taken too far. People are getting injured, emotionally and physically. Fans are taking each other on as if there were some sort of actual war going on between them, and there are definitely those who pay way too great a price.
I’m sure there will be those that tell me that this kind of trash-talk is just good-natured fun. However, I believe that whenever people are allowed to treat each other with disrespect, we are opening doors to the acceptance of this kind of behavior elsewhere, and we’re going down a path that just doesn’t need to be traveled.