Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Cheering For, Cheering Against
There are people who love to root for people to do their best, who encourage one and all to excel, to work as hard as possible to succeed at whatever it is that makes one happy
And then there are people who just want to see successful people fail miserably, fall from grace, crash and burn.
It's as if they have had a lifelong bad day and all they want to do is kick the dog.
Watching this past weekend's NFL action with a few friends and acquaintances it was interesting to watch how people behave when they have taken a side.
There are people who throw everything they've got into supporting the best efforts of "their" team, and there are people who expend a considerable amount of energy rooting for the other team to fail.
Badgering the other team, wishing that the players that were not liked would fall flat on their faces, was far more common that cheering the favored team on - I'd estimate 80% of the time someone around me was yelling at the TV, it was in the hopes that the opposition would screw up.
After one guy I know finished yelling as the Bronco's pulled out a win over the Chargers, I asked him why he hated Philip Rivers with so much zeal. He looked at me and simply said, "Because he's a pretty boy."
Fascinating logic, that. Apparently, being a pretty boy pisses off some people to the degree that they will root for your downfall. I wondered if he actively rooted against any pretty women endeavoring to succeed.
I am guilty myself of not only razzing a player or two, but I have actively hoped that some professional athletes would fail, and fail miserably. And not for much better reason than because they were a "pretty boy" - though it's usually for something like arrogance or being a showboat.
It is probably safe to state that both cheering for heroes and booing villains is a universal constant. It may well be part of our shared primordial programming, something so inherent in the human psyche that it cannot be avoided.
But it's amazing to me how much more enthusiasm I witnessed from those showering expletives galore down on the team or players they didn't like. Truly fascinating.
Every group of humans that shares ethnic, cultural, genetic, religious, or social commonalities - heck, maybe it's just living in close geographic proximity - develops an us-versus-them attitude against other groups of humans, and cheers for their members to win and for the other groups members to lose.
It even happens among people who have absolutely no definable difference from each other - you can visit the smallest towns in America, where everybody somewhat looks and acts alike, and guaranteed the high school will have a cross-town (or down the road) rival.
It must be some residual trait from when competing for food, water, or other resources necessary for survival on a daily basis was all life was about, for everybody.
Either that, or people just like to yell with impunity at large people that could otherwise harm them if it happened outside of the arena.