For only the second time in my entire life, Navy beat Notre Dame on the gridiron today, smacking the Fighting Irish on their own turf, winning by the rarest and narrowest of margins: a fourth quarter safety! Few sporting events have made me happier than watching the Midshipman beat the Irish twice in the past three years, as Notre Dame easily, handily tops the list of teams that I actively, vociferously root against. Every time the Fighting Irish take the field or the court, I’m rooting for the other guys or girls, whoever they might be. Go teams! Fight back against those Irish!
You might think that Army would top my list of teams that create the strongest sense of aversion for me, seeing as how I’m a Navy alum and all that. But the beauty of the Army (and to a lesser extent, Air Force) rivalry with Navy is that I actually pull for them to win every game they play, except the ones that find them pitted against Navy. I have the highest regard for Army’s teams, knowing what they go through on top of their sports commitments, and knowing the sacrifices that they make in exchange for their college educations. They’re my brothers and sisters. Except for when they play Navy.
After basking in Notre Dame’s shellacking at the hands of the Midshipmen for a few hours this afternoon, I got to pondering the other teams that cause me to automatically pull for the opposition. So here’s a quick list of teams that immediately pop to mind . . .
1. Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Any sport, any opposition, I am rooting against you, and the sense of entitlement that you carry just because you won one for the Gipper 7,000 years ago. Watching network television falling all over itself to try to get you into the BCS picture with a 9-4 record makes my stomach turn.
2. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. My dad was a North Carolina State alum, so I grew up surrounded by Wolfpack memorabilia and have deep-seated, emotional memories of watching State win the NCAA basketball championships with David Thompson in the ’70s and Lorenzo Charles in the ’80s. And being a State fan is mutually exclusive with being a Tarheel fan. Plus, during my college years, my girlfriend went to Chapel Hill, and I spent a lot of time there. I adored her, but I detested most of the smug, Izod shirt wearing tools she went to school with.
3. Miami Dolphins. I also have strong memories of watching the Dolphins beat the Redskins (my dad’s favorite team) in the Super Bowl to cap their perfect season back in ’72-73. That was galling enough, but watching the members of that team cracking bottles of champagne every year when the last undefeated team falls is so tacky that I can’t help but wish that someone, somewhere would knock that record off so I don’t have to hear about you anymore. Although I am glad that it wasn’t the New England Belichick’s that did it.
4. The New York Yankees. Is there anything less imaginative than being a Yankees fan? Gee . . . big risk you take there, chief, what with historical statistics saying your team’s going to win the World Series one out of every four years. This year is worst than most, since the Yankees victory has resulted in me being subjected to far too many pictures of the untalented and dull Kate Hudson flashing across my computer screen, as though it was her who drove in all of those Game Six RBIs. You wrecked the Black Crowes, Kate. I look forward to you doing the same to the Yankees next year.
5. Dallas Cowboys. Again, growing up in a strongly devoted Washington Redskins household, these guys were the enemies to top all enemies. But back in the day, you at least had to offer grudging respect to Coach Tom Landry and QB Roger Staubach (the last Navy QB to beat Notre Dame until three years ago), whereas the current crop of spoiled rich idiots running the ranch evoke neither empathy nor respect from where I sit. Though at least they had the sense to dump T.O.
6. Washington Redskins. A hatred for something you once loved is always a strong and burning one. I grew up rooting for the ‘Skins, but can in no way, shape or form root for them as long as the repellent Dan Snyder owns them. And he’s about my age, so I don’t suspect that I’ll ever have a chance to root for a post-Snyder Washington football club. And, really, it’s time to change that name. There’s no excuse for not doing so at this point. It’s offensive, plain and simple.
7. Philadelphia Flyers. While my beloved Washington Capitals get victimized more often by the cross-state Pittsburgh Penguins that the Flyers, I still hold the eastern Pennsylvania team to be the more loathsome, in large part because they once paid Eric Lindross to play for them. The sooner the Flyers fold up like tacos in the postseason, the happier I am. Which is convenient, because it usually happens pretty quickly.
8. Miami Hurricanes. I’m a lifelong Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) fan, and I think the conference went to the dogs when they let South Florida’s semi-pro teams join what had once been a nice Carolina-centric concern. When the Hurricanes joined, there was at least the sense that maybe a “rising tide lifts all ships” effect would help the ACC, but the ‘Canes have been largely mediocre and annoying for most of their time in the conference. How ’bout we give them and Boston College back to the Big East, huh? We’ll keep Virginia Tech, if you want us to. They’re at least in a town that’s culturally part of the South, unlike Miami. Then if we can get Furman and Elon to upgrade to Division I-A, that would be one helluva great sports conference.
9. Maryland Terrapins. Again, as a Carolina-based ACC fan, it never quite seemed right to me to have a school from so close to the Mason-Dixon line in our conference. My antipathy to the Terps only grew when I was at Annapolis, especially after I watched a now-famous member of their football team (whose name I shan’t repeat) talk smack about Navy’s team in an Annapolis bar, inciting a brawl, in which he got stomped. Heh heh heh.
10. Ohio State Buckeyes. I think this is probably carryover distaste from the infamous incident where abusive Buckeye coach Woody Hayes punched a Clemson player during a game. I remember how loathsome it was to watch at the time, and I find myself wanting Ohio State to pay for it, all these years later.
11. Any basketball team coached by Bobby Knight. Speaking of loathsome. And abusive. Blech.
12. Michigan Wolverines. Because they don’t beat Ohio State nearly as often as they should, and because a school this big shouldn’t be allowed to compete against normal sized colleges and universities. You’d think with such a large pool of student athletes to pull from, they’d be able to field some decent teams. Surprisingly not so, most of the time.
Dishonorable Mentions: The entire Southeastern Conference. The entire Big Twelve (most especially Kansas, whose teams break my brackets in hoops, year after year after year). The entire Big Ten (except for Minnesota), because they can’t count the number of teams they have. Likewise the Pac Ten. The Philadelphia 76ers. The New York Rangers. The Milwaukee Brewers (because they got to jump from the AL to the NL instead of the beloved Royals).
So those are the ones that pop to mind after quick thought. So which teams do you root against? Any on my list?