The Self-Righteousness of Sports Fans

Whoah. Hold up.

First, let's distinguish between post-touchdown dances and everything else. Emma, you mentioned Serena Williams, but she doesn't just call people names or act goofy. She threatens. Like in her 2009 US Open match against Kim Clijsters, when she told a line judge  "I swear to God I'm [freaking] going to take this [freaking] ball and shove it down your [freaking] throat." That is not, never has, and never will be acceptable in sports.  Evah.

The same goes for Ndamukong Suh.  It was stunning that the Costas speechifying  didn't include Suh's "stupidity," which could end up hurting his team far more than Johnson's faux paus hurt his. Johnson's celebration, after all, didn't happen between the lines. Nobody was at risk of getting hurt. His sole offense was being in bad taste—and playing in the No Fun League. For Costas though, stomping on an opponent is apparently not as bad as partying after a big score. Dirty play? No big whoop. A tacky touchdown dance, though, clearly means the end of Western Civilization.

That makes Bob a scold. But please don't paint all of sports fandom with that smug, superior brush. Sure, the relationship between fan and athlete can be like a moralizing parent to child. But it can also be like a child to surrogate parent, or like a boss to an employee, like a Drill Sargent to a raw recruit, or like a sexy dental hygienist to her handsome but handsy patient.

Okay, that last one was a stretch.

The point, though, is that there are as many ways to be emotionally invested in athletes as there are people who are emotionally invested in them. In the same way, Jake, some fans surely do like seeing athletes punished from sheer lifestyle envy. But it demands a pretty narrow, cynical view of humanity to say that jealousy is the sole or core motivation. Some fans, let's hope, simply like to see the games they care about affirming whatever cultural values they hold dear. Even dumb ones—like penalizing "excessive celebration." That doesn't necessarily mean those fans like to cackle at the high brought low, or are secretly jealous of athletes for having mansions, fast cars, cool clothes, and hot babes galore. For me, the jealousy is right out in the open.

–Hampton

Presented by

Sports Roundtable

Patrick Hruby, Jake Simpson, and Hampton Stevens 

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