It’s a weird feeling, to take solace in or hope for your own team’s loss. But it would be weirder still not to feel some happiness for their opponents’ joy if there’s no particular rivalry at stake. Admittedly, Eagles fans are not making this part easy, but the Atlanta fans I met in Houston last year were, to a person, genuinely happy and friendly in a way we’re unaccustomed to around here in Boston, where a pleasant greeting is an affront to decency. They danced and laughed in the parking lot, took excitable group selfies to commemorate what was sure to be a memorable experience, and wished us good luck. All game, I felt happy for the young Falcons fan seated next to me. I wanted him to have this one.
The typical Patriots fan, on the other hand, was miserable with success by then, our blood long since curdled and our spines crooked with the glut of good fortune. Anything less than a Super Bowl win last year, as this year, would be considered a failure. The team’s continued success means a constant supply of articles from other cities constantly reminding us just how uniquely annoying we are. (So yes, I know how many of you are thinking about where I can stuff my sob story about my team winning too much. Finally, a white guy from Boston writing about his sports emotions!) But now it’s gotten to the point where writers are contacting ethicists to ask if it’s okay to cheer for the Patriots, and otherwise decent New England natives are pledging to donate to charity every time the team scores as a form of penance for their fandom. There’s a common expression in Boston media about this sort of thing: “They hate us ’cause they ain’t us.” I would probably edit that down by four words.