Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com


Everything about sports has evolved into something bigger in the past 20 years. Bigger games, bigger coverage, even the players are bigger. There’s also bigger hatred among fans. Part of that is because the stakes are higher. More money, more glory, more hype. It’s no longer sufficient to win. Fans, taking their cue from players, want their opponent to lose, and lose big. The “thrill of victory” is only a real thrill now when augmented by some trash-talking, debasing of the other team.

Part of that comes from street culture infusing itself into the mainstream. T-Shirts that spout egomaniacal saying abound. “Second is the first loser” is the rallying cry for all who see an event as only about me, me and me.

The barbs that fly during the course of competition were usually left on the field. They were part of the competition itself, not based in reality, but rather part of the ”fantasy world” athletes can create in their mind to help perform at a high level. Some need it, some don’t. The ones who need it have taken it off the field, and made it a part of the pre- and post-game ritual. Its not enough to score a touchdown, I now need some kind of signature “dance” so I’ll get more time on Sportscenter.

The media has brought it to the public, making it an acceptable part of sports and sports coverage. Fans have picked up on this, trash-talking their rivals, even when they’re not your opponents. Many fans now take as much pleasure in seeing their rivals lose as they do in their own team winning.

That makes no sense.

Who cares what your rival is doing? Why are you paying attention to them anyway, unless they have something you don’t?

Why is “you lose” more important than “I win?”

I never considered my opponents during a competition. They were just an obstacle to be vanquished, somebody in the way of victory. Who cares what they thought before or afterwards? The feeling of victory was enough. If we didn’t win, we walked away with the resolved to play better next time. But it’s not enough just to win anymore. You have to beat on your opponent. Humiliate them.

How quaint you might be thinking. Sam wants us to go back to that “old college try.” Shake hands, get ‘em next time.

I understand team loyalty. Living and dying with every play, every pitch, every missed shot. People who revel in somebody else’s misery don’t belong in sports.

Politics might be a better place for them.

In sports, it’s about winning. Not losing.