Last week the Giants won the World Series. As a former SF resident and soon to be wife to a diehard Giants fan, I applaud them. They’re a great team who deserves it. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for San Francisco. The truth is, as a Dodgers fan, I don’t hate the Giants. Although I grew up next door to Dodgers stadium in Glendale, I didn’t understand baseball growing up. Didn’t pay it too much mind when it was on TV and didn’t like Dodger dogs. Then I moved to SF, and the city’s love for baseball was contagious. So I started repping my home team and ducking popcorn and other items that were thrown at me when I would wear my Dodger blue in San Francisco.
So when the Giants won their third World Series championship in the last five years, about five percent of me was happy for them. The other 95%? Anger. I was so mad. Mad at all the Instagram posts, at my friends cheering on the other side of FaceTime. It’s silly but in that moment there was nothing I wanted more than the Royals to win. The rationale part of me wants to say, “Hey relax, it’s just a game. San Francisco is celebrating, you should be happy for them.” But the louder part of me wants to throw a pie at any of my friends who are mocking the Dodgers.
It all seems so silly when there’s no high stake game on. But honestly, there is a reason why sports rivalries drive people to talk trash, to throw popcorn, to throw punches. In a great Op-Ed piece in the L.A. Times, Robert Sapolsky writes in defense of choosing a side. How the idea of picking a side and rooting for the downfall of the opposing side is something that is innately in us. It’s not really who we’re rooting for that’s important to us…it’s just the fact that we have chosen any side. There’s something in us that wants to side with the stronger side. Subconsciously we’re always after surrounding ourselves with the best and the strongest. So when we’ve chosen a side and we’re beaten, it’s devastating….as silly as it may seem.
Of course, this is is not in defense of violence, this in defense of choosing a side and (non-violently) defending it and having pride in it. Creating a them versus us mentality is an primal quality, something that ties us to other animals. We create a sense of community to build allies. Sports rivalries are about communities and camaraderie. We’re built to pick a side, to pick a team and defend it to the end.
It only sucks when you’re on the losing side. Oh man, it really fucking sucks. But the great thing about sports is that we’re all masochists that are more than willing to sign up for more torture next year on the off chance we come out on top.
So keep talking shit, everyone. It’s only natural.