Teams we love to hate
There are certain teams that sports fans love to hate. They are sports' most polarizing teams. You either love them or hate them. There is no in between. They might be your favorite team, so much so that you own hats and jerseys and subscriptions to satellite packages just to follow it. You watch each game, living and dying with every play. Or you hate that team. You root against it with the same might that you root for your favorite team. Now, in fairness, most of the teams on this list are or have been really good at some point. Fans' hatred of these teams often stems from jealousy or frustration over watching them win championships. Think about it: No one hates the Bucs or Rays or Houston Astros or Denver Nuggets because those teams never have been consistently great enough to hate. And times change. Back in the 1960s, there certainly must have been fans who hated the Packers because they were so good . These days, the only folks who hate the Packers are the fans of Green Bay's top rivals. The teams on this list, however, are hated not just by their rivals but by most sports fans. Here's a look at some of sports' most despised teams.
This might be the most hated team in sports right now because of one man: LeBron James. When was the last time you saw an athlete's popularity and reputation take such a huge, sudden hit for doing nothing illegal? That's what happens when you rent out time on national television and shine a spotlight on yourself while announcing you're leaving your blue-collar hometown team that you couldn't lead to a championship to go to another team in a glamorous city that is trying to buy a championship. It's not that fans want to see the Heat franchise fail as much as they want to see LeBron fail. Plus, fans don't generally like teams that simply open their wallets to purchase a championship even though it's not against the rules. Either way, fans will take delight if the Heat isn't the NBA champ this season.
Why do people hate Duke basketball so much? After all, they win, they do things the right way and they have good kids. Well, do you know why people hate them so much? Because they win, they do things the right way and they have good kids. It's all just a little too goody-goody. And doesn't it feel as if coach Mike Krzyzewski gives off this aura of Duke basketball being a cut above everyone else in every way? It's one thing to be better than everyone else. It's another to act as if you're better than everyone else, and that's how those who hate Duke feel.
Notre Dame football
The same way people feel about Duke basketball is the way people used to feel about Notre Dame football. For years, Notre Dame dominated the college football landscape and took pleasure in letting everyone know that it was just better -- athletically, academically and even morally. Funny, but Notre Dame's recent struggles on the football field haven't diminished the venom toward the Fighting Irish. Even though Notre Dame hasn't won 11 games in a season since 1993, college fans still are giddy whenever it goes down against a team such as Navy or Air Force. Or Tulsa.
What's weird about the hatred of the Cowboys is that fans started hating them when they were led by what appeared to be genuinely nice guys. Was there a classier coach in NFL history than Tom Landry? Was there a better citizen than former Navy man and quarterback Roger Staubach? Yet it was during the 1970s that the Cowboys were known as America's Team -- a nickname that smacked of smugness. It's as if they took a vote and appointed themselves the most popular team in the country. Except there was no vote. Just their proclamation. And their logo: a big, fat star. Their old stadium had a hole in the roof so, Cowboys faithful said, God could watch His favorite team. The hatred continued into the 1990s when they had brash coaches and players such as Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer, Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders, and owner Jerry Jones, and it continues today.
Any team from Philadelphia
Well, except for the 76ers, who aren't good enough to dislike. It's not that the rest of the country dislikes the franchises in Philadelphia but the people who cheer for those franchises. In other words, it's the Philly fans no one likes. They pour beer, they hurl insults, they run on the fields and get Tased, they throw up on other people -- and that's what they do to each other! They treat opposing teams and fans worse. They are the rudest, crudest, most misbehaved and classless fans in the country. And, the thing is, they are proud of it. Therefore, the rest of the country takes joy in watching those fans suffer.
New York Yankees
This might be the most hated sports franchise in history. There are two reasons why everyone except New Yorkers hates the Yankees: They are the winningest team in North American professional sports, and they have more money than every team in professional sports. This is nothing new. The Yankees were hated back in the 1920s when they had Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, in the '40s when they had Joe DiMaggio, and in the '70s when George Steinbrenner was running the show. What's frustrating for Yankee-haters is the Yankees’ arrogance that they are the best and smartest franchise in the world without ever acknowledging that money is the chief reason why they are so good and appear so smart. They are the rich kids in school who think they are better than everyone else just because their daddy drives a BMW.
Toronto Maple Leafs
This franchise is the exception to the rule that teams are hated because they are so good. The Maple Leafs haven't won a Stanley Cup since 1967. But that's sort of the point. The Maple Leafs, their fans and much of the media and broadcasters who cover the team act as if the Leafs still are the most important franchise in the NHL. It's an example of arrogance for no good reason. A writer friend once had a line about the Maple Leafs that fits perfectly: The Leafs are the Yankees, minus all the winning.
Even Notre Dame football and Duke basketball have huge fan bases. But the Generals? In their entire history, it's fair to say that 100 percent of those in attendance have rooted against them. That's hatred, man. Not even one person wants you to win. Ever. In every game the Generals play, the fans are rooting for the other team -- the Harlem Globetrotters. And speaking of the Generals, coach Lou Klotz has won only a handful of games or so and has lost more than 13,000. How does that guy keep his job?
Boston Red Sox
Up until 2004, the Red Sox were kind of lovable and even sympathetic. They hadn't won a World Series since 1918 and baseball fans could feel the pain of New Englanders as their team suffered heartbreak after heartbreak, from Bucky Dent to Bill Buckner to Aaron Boone. But then they snapped the Curse of the Bambino by winning it all in 2004 and the fans became, arguably, the most obnoxious in baseball. Suddenly they weren't just fans, but Red Sox Nation, a collection of self-centered, cocky egomaniacs who think they invented the game. Making it worse is how the Red Sox and their fans constantly whine about the money the Yankees spend when their team, often, spends the second-most money on payroll.