Why rooting against a top team is fun

By BRANDON WOLFE | February 8, 2018


As Philly fans continue to run through the streets of the City of Brotherly Love in just their underwear, Patriots fans are beginning to try and cope with the reality that they lost the Super Bowl to a backup quarterback. 

One of the most interesting aspects about sports is the fact that rooting against certain teams can be almost as fun as rooting for your own team, and it’s been very easy to root against the Patriots over the past several years. 

Whether it’s been Spygate, Deflategate or just being-sick-and-tired-of-Brady-winning-Super-Bowls-gate, it seems that many football fans have united to hate New England.

As a Pittsburgh fan, the only positive outcome that could have happened would have been if both teams had lost. But since that could not happen, I swallowed my pride and became an Eagles fan for the day for the sake of rooting against the Patriots, joining millions of other football fans whose favorite teams were unable to run the gauntlet to the biggest Sunday of the year.

And who can blame them? Many fans have been sick and tired of New England’s winning ways. 

Since 2001, the New England Patriots have won the AFC East every season but two. They have won the AFC Championship eight times. They’ve won five Super Bowls under the leadership of the man of 1,000 frowns, Bill Belichick, and with the man who has become to be known as “the GOAT,” Tom Brady. 

Is it out of a lack of respect for that team? No, it is mere jealousy, because everybody wants to see their favorites be on top, and watching another team that they don’t care about consistently be better than their own makes fans jealous and makes us vie for change in the form of rooting for the underdogs.

We are a country that loves underdogs. We love watching people beat the odds and overcome some great force. When was the last time you watched a movie about a character who faced no adversity and accomplished a goal as the heavy favorite?

It is no fun to see the same person or same team consistently win, unless you are referring to the United States in the World Wars, in which case go USA, but our society gravitates towards Cinderella stories. They make people feel good, and they like to see people or teams beat the odds.

Think about this: Unless the team that you root for has a rivalry with an underperforming team, do you root against them? 

Take the University of Central Florida’s football team this year. The Knights went from 0-12 in 2015 to undefeated this past season, leaving them as the only team in the NCAA without a loss when the dust settled at the end of the season.

Did their claims of being the “true national champions” ruffle some feathers? 

Of course, but was anyone without a dog in the fight rooting against UCF? No, because the Knights were a feel-good story that appeased the common fan.

Take March Madness as another example. Very few people want to see the four number one seeds dominate throughout, they want to see upsets. They want to see the little guy come out on top. They want to see the unpredictable. That’s where the hatred for the Patriots comes in. 

People acknowledge that Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, but they also acknowledge that he has had his time in the sun and that it gets annoying constantly seeing him at the top. Sure, there are other reasons to dislike a team, but there’s no denying that few things put bigger targets on your back than winning. This is because winning means media coverage and exposure, and overexposure can become very annoying and lead to more and more scrutiny. 

In an era of social media, this scrutiny is almost always one click away. Whether it is a video of a referee seeming to celebrate with Patriot players or a Youtube video detailing how the entirety of the 2017 NFL season was rigged for New England to win the Super Bowl, people will find ways to broadcast their distaste to the masses.

As long as the Patriots remain near the top, this will continue, and as new teams climb the mountain and become constant fixtures of success, they too will face the wrath of the jealous fan, and us jealous fans will continue to root for the underdogs.

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