Passionate Sports Fans, Meet Reason


Dan Steinberg of the D.C. Sports Bog apparently doesn't know that no one wants to know the truth about their sports enemies. (Related post on the women's game.)

At the NCAA tournament, Steinberg spent some quality time with the family of much-hated Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski, as well as some Duke players.

Of course, what he found out was that these humans, like just about all humans, are pretty nice.

I know this will be treated as treasonous nonsense by anyone not affiliated with Duke, but up close, it seemed awfully odd that these teenagers should be worthy of hate.

Before the West Virginia game, I visited with Coach K's family, trying to figure out what it's like to deal with that every time they hit the road. The Coach K section included about 15 family members and 25 friends, and they said the NCAA tournament was usually their easiest, least boo-filled road trip of the year. They said they too would root for the Belmonts of the world against a two or three seed every time, and they said that the arena uniting against Duke was a perfectly natural NCAA tournament moment that would have happened to any high seed. Still, they admitted that the boos sometimes grate.

"It gets old," said youngest daughter Jamie Spatola. "Every year, every game...."

"We've become somewhat accustomed to it, but the new guys on our team aren't accustomed to it," Coach K's wife, Mickie, told me. "J.J. Redick was accustomed to it, but Kyle Singler isn't accustomed to it. It's like, why? Kyle Singler is one of the all-time great kids, and he just walks out on the court and gets booed. It's like, 'What did I do wrong?' It's perplexing to the boys on the team, because they're always like, 'What did we do? What did we do wrong?' "

"Some of our guys are 18-year-old kids," middle daughter Lindy Frasher added, "and there are grown men yelling [expletive] you at them."

I think we all get that sports run on irrational passion, and it's no fun to just get all rational all the time.

But read Steinberg's entire blog post, and I think you'll wonder, as I do, whether or not demonizing your enemy really makes sports more fun. Beating a great team, to me, feels better than beating a bunch of scumbags.

Also, I'm someone who just can't stand to be lied to, or deluded. If, in fact, the "bad guys" are perfectly nice people, don't you feel like kind of a tool calling them nasty names all night? Shouldn't we save that treatment for, you know, actual bad guys?