By Mr. F
Perfection. Even the word itself sounds awesome. When you look at the word, you can almost imagine an illustrious glow coming off of it. But what is it about perfection that intrigues us? Is it the tremendous amount of skill it takes to achieve it? The flawless process that takes us there? Or the feeling of the utmost satisfaction we feel from accomplishing it? Here’s the real question: If we are so adamant about hitting perfection, why do we root against others seeking the same goal?
If you’re digging deep enough to be reading this article, you’ve already heard that the Kansas City Chiefs—yes, the Kansas City Chiefs—have knocked off the previously-perfect Green Bay Packers, 19-14. For Packers fans, this loss feels like all those untimely Brett Favre interceptions wrapped into one big bag of shit (with the exception of his pick against the Saints in the 2010 NFC Championship Game, which is probably their second-favorite non-Packers highlight, right behind “49ers select Alex Smith”). After they took out the Giants and the Raiders, 16-0 seemed inevitable, with the last 3 games becoming simply a formality. The conversation turned to: “Do you think the Saints will be able to beat them in the NFC Championship? Will the Superbowl add too much pressure? Can they get back-to-back undefeated seasons?” But then KC happened. And all of a sudden, everyone is back to earth. Parity is alive, there are no sure things, and as Bart Scott would say, “Anybody can be beat.”
How did this happen? The winning teams’ defense got to opposing teams’ QB, the winning teams’ offense controlled the clock; the winning team limited turnovers, etc. Sound familiar? It’s been literally the same game plan that has helped every single underdog defeat a highly favored NFL juggernaut. I’m not going to write an essay on what Kansas City did right, you can find a million different renditions of the same story all over the web and TV.
Instead, I want to look at what made so many sports fans happy that this happened. Think about it—if you would have asked any sports fan before this week, “Are you rooting for the Packers to go undefeated?” everybody would have had an opinion. Not one person would have said “Hmmmm… I haven’t really been following it, either way is fine with me.” It’s something that has only been done once, and never in this schedule format. Who wouldn’t be interested? I’ve heard of non-Green Bay fans rooting for them for reasons like “It’d be cool to see”, “It would make the playoffs more exciting”, and (the most common) “To shut Mercury Morris up.” But when you ask someone who is rooting against them, including myself, the reason is always the same “Because I don’t want to see any team do it besides my own.”
As sports fans, we hate seeing other teams enjoy success when we have no ties to them. It hurts almost as much as losing. Think about it, Yankees fans. After blowing a 3 game lead to the Red Sox in 2004, you hit rock bottom. But after the nights of anger and solitude, you started thinking “Wait a second! The Cardinals could still beat them and continue Boston’s misery! Yes, it’s not over yet!” A 4 game sweep later, you felt just as sick, watching the Red Sox celebrate that title, didn’t you?
Even as kids, we feel upset when somebody else accomplishes what we want. For athletes, this is obvious. But it extends far beyond that category. Remember running for class president in school, taking it as a personal shot when your classmates voted a different student to the top? You hated that kid for the rest of the year. You felt a tinge of jealousy when your best friend got a higher score on their math test. Hell, you can’t even stand to see someone drink more than you.
When somebody asked me “Why don’t you want to see Green Bay go undefeated?” the best way I could wrap words around it was this: Imagine a smoking hot girl, 10, perfect body, etc. Here’s the kicker: She’s a virgin*. Everybody wants to be the one to sleep with her, obviously. Let’s say she’s been dating a guy for 13 weeks. The guy thinks he’s close. Do you want him to get what he wants– or do you hope she dumps him, finds herself back on the open market, and free for another man, like yourself, to take his shot at obtaining that Holy Grail?
For fans of the other 31 teams out there, we kept our hopes alive; our hopes to be the first 19-0 team ever. We’ll continue to root against teams that even get a whiff of perfection, unless they are our own. And we’re proud of it. It is our natural competitive spirit to see the biggest and most powerful teams see their dreams crushed. For Packers fans, some continue to spin their totem tops, waiting for their nightmare to be realized, so they can wake up and still be undefeated. I know I’ve been doing the same since 2008, waiting to wake just in time to see Eli Manning’s desperation pass to Tyree be batted down by Harrison…maybe when a team really does go 19-0, I’ll be ready to come back to reality.
*She claims so, anyway. Mercury Morris seems to be convinced that he already has been there, done that