It was the night Washington beat St. Louis in Game 4 of the National League Division series and sporting a cap of such in Cardinals’ country wasn’t a great idea. So I told him. I actually scolded him for wearing the wrong hat. “Dude,” I said, trying to reach his generation with my hip talk. “That ain’t cool.”
And then I realized, I was a crotchety old man complaining about the kid’s team. But that realization didn’t last and my sports grudge flared again.
A week later, I spoke to a woman who, offhandedly, said she was a Washington Redskins fan. I immediately said something about them beating my beloved Vikings last week. My anger rose again.
Those kinds of grudges stick with me apparently. I’ve forgiven people who’ve stolen from me, ex-girlfriends who broke my heart and my parents for moving from Minnesota. But I hold on to sports things for a long, long time.
My first grudge developed at a very early age. The Washington Redskins beat my Vikings on a last-second play once when I was but a grade school imp. I asked my father where I could get enough explosives to blow up the nation’s capital city. Musings of a small kid, sure. But I still remember today that anger I felt over the game. It stays with you.
In 1975, the Dallas Cowboys beat the Vikings on quarterback Roger Staubach’s Hail Mary pass to Drew Pearson. I thought it was blatant offensive pass interference on the Cowboys. The referees thought otherwise and I felt the utter crush of defeat. I also felt a rising hatred for Dallas.
I also harbor ill feelings toward the Boston Red Sox. Coming back from a three-game deficit to beat the New York Yankees was bad enough in 2004. They added the fuel to my burning dislike of them when they swept the Cardinals in the World Series.
I am over a half-century old. Some of these offenses I still cling to happened four decades ago. It may be time to let it go.
But it’s hard and that’s what gives the characteristics of sports fans. It’s more fun to root for a team you have reasons to hate. A victory over that particular team gives an added enjoyment. On the inverse, getting beat by a grudge team hurts and it perpetuates the discord and the everlasting hatred.
There are more teams to form grudges against. I’m developing one now for the San Francisco Giants as they battle the Cardinals in the National League Championship Series. It’s a minor thing now, but if the Giants win on some controversial play, or they injure a Cardinals’ star it’ll develop fully.
I’m sure there are people in San Francisco now who are working on their own grudges against St. Louis.
I’ll return to the grocery store where the Washington cap-wearing fan was and I’ll try to understand my sports obsession and my grudges that last lifetimes. And even though it may be a problem, at least I maintained some civility and didn’t knock that hat off his head.