Being from Philadelphia and dealing with morons on a daily basis, I consider myself an expert in the field of hate. I hate the Dallas Cowboys. I hate the New York Giants. I hate the Mets and Braves and Rangers and Penguins and Steelers. I hate the Knicks and Lakers, Ohio State and Michigan. And I hate a long, long list of current and retired athletes who played either for or against my favorite teams. Hell, I hate a good 90 percent (or more) of the people I meet in real life.
But I don't consider myself a hater.
Here's why. To me, a hater is someone who hates simply for the sake of hating, with absolutely no capacity to give any credit whatsoever to the object of their disdain. For example, the person who claims, "Peyton Manning sucks!" Yeah, but he throws for a ton of yards, has won a ton of games, set records, never misses a game, calls his own plays and has a Super Bowl ring. None of that matters? "Doesn't matter, he still sucks," the hater says.
To me, there's no quicker way to lose me than to say something along those lines, something like, "Sidney Crosby is a pussy and sucks." You lose all credibility. What you say has no credence. Because you are a hater. You just sound stupid and childish and ignorant. How do you expect anyone to take you seriously?
Now I admit, at times it's difficult to avoid being a hater. One of the greatest pleasures of being a sports fan is the acceptable practice of hating. You hate your favorite team's rivals. You hate certain players from certain schools, teams, areas. It's part of who we are.
But there's a way to hate with reason, and then there's being a hater. For instance, I hate Karl Malone with every fiber of my being, yet I readily admit he is one of the greatest power forwards to ever play and an absolute beast. I hate Kobe Bryant and the Lakers to no end, but I can't help but appreciate the way Kobe plays and all the hard work he puts in. The same goes for Sidney Crosby.
There isn't a franchise in all of sports I loathe more than the Dallas Cowboys, yet I acknowledge the greatness of Emmitt and Irving and Aikman. If there was one city on the planet I would choose to blow up, it would without a doubt be Pittsburgh, yet I can appreciate all the ways stupid jerkface Ben Roethlisberger can win games, how incredibly awesome Troy Polamalu is and how well-run that organization is.
It's your right as a sports fan to hate — in fact, it's a tradition. And even blind, senseless hate is fair game. I'm guilty of it myself. But it's when you allow that hate to completely blind you to reality that you reach the point of hater and lose the respect of your peers.
Go ahead and call Jorge Posada a cock-gobbling asshole who cries about the strike zone more than any catcher in the history of the game. I agree with you 100 percent. Just don't tell me he was never any good at hitting a baseball. Because that's just ridiculous. And you sound like you don't know what you're talking about.
Hate is a good thing in sports. It's healthy and fun and accepted. But no one likes or respects the jaded, uninformed, ignorant hater.