I was startled and disappointed by the many snide and gloating comments about the NFC championship game that I saw on Facebook last night from fans of the Minnesota Vikings. Yes, Green Bay lost. And yes, the Packers and Vikings are rivals. But the rudeness didn't make any sense.
I grew up in a house divided, split pretty evenly between Packer and Viking fans. We took football seriously, watched all the games, knew our players' stats, took pride in keeping track of our team's regular-season standings. Packer-Viking games in our house were events. But when the playoffs came around, if the Packers were out of the running it was a given that we would join them in rooting for the Vikings, and vice versa, because we were still the same division. You cheered for whoever in the NFC North was still a Super Bowl contender, because obviously you want to be able to say your team is from the best division.
In the same way, it seems absurd to me that people assume I'll be cheering for the Patriots in this year's Super Bowl because the Seahawks beat my Packers. Of course I'm cheering for the Seahawks, because they're from the NFC. Loyalty to my team means loyalty to their division and their conference. On February 2, I want to be able to say that the Packers lost in overtime to the strongest team in the NFL this year (but we'll be better than them next year).
Cheering for a team is good. Morally neutral, I suppose, but a fine thing to do. Cheering against a team, though, saying "I don't really care about team X winning but I hope team Y loses because I hate them," is unsportsmanlike.
Yesterday's was a good game, exciting to watch, keeping our attention down to the last minute. I'm not sure how many times we commented that "it's not over yet" in reference to both teams' chances. The Packers played very well right from the beginning, despite the poor weather conditions. The Seahawks made an impressive comeback—I think one of the commentators said it was among the biggest conference championship comebacks on record. The last few minutes of regular game time, it could absolutely have gone either way, and then overtime. If the only thing you enjoyed about the game is the fact that the Packers lost, I can't imagine that you actually like football.
Or that you really like the Vikings, for that matter, except as a tool for expressing a petty sort of statism. "Ha, my team's rivals lost, because they're losers from Wisconsin." Seriously?