Been thinking a lot about anger and hate lately. Shocked by manifestations of hatred at home and abroad — ethnic, religious, racial. Ashamed by how often I think the word “hate” during college basketball season, and wondering how akin my silly feelings are to those that actually lead to violence. How can anyone justify hating Duke or Connecticut? Clean programs, great coaches — grounds for jealousy, but not hatred. Sure, pretty much everyone hates Kentucky, but universal hatred gets you closer to rationalizing group violence. And could it be that at times people have even hated dear old IU? If you wonder about the tribal emotional factor in sports, you may want to read Your Brain on Cubs: Inside the Heads of Players and Fans by Dan Gordon. More focused on the ugly side is Sport Matters: Sociological Studies of Sport, Violence, and Civilization by Eric Dunning. I don’t know that sports emotions are all that different from other us-against-them emotions. Pride and shame, joy and grief, love — and hatred. Americans know well that big sports events can lead to riots — even by fans of winning teams. Around the world, soccer hooligans have scarred the “beautiful game” off and on for decades. Still, the modern link between violence and sports remains slight compared to ancient Roman times. Deadly gladiatorial fights were hugely popular for centuries. But the most dramatic connection was the Nika riots of 532 in Constantinople that almost brought down the government. The riots were started by two rival gangs of chariot racing fans who temporarily teamed up against the Emperor Justinian, but his supporters bribed one gang to turn on the other, and soon the revolt was crushed. The riots feature in such novels as Count Belisarius by Robert Graves, Theodora and the Emperor by Harold Lamb, The Female by Paul Wellman and, more recently, Eight for Eternity by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer. So, even though their rival St. Louis Cardinals spoiled the Cubs’ high-hopes season opener this week, it’s unlikely any Cubs fans will blow up the Gateway Arch. Just hope none of them will have heart attacks as their hopes and dreams go the way they have for 105 years.
If they don’t win it’s a shame
April 10, 2015 by Evan