There’s perhaps one thing that sports fans like more than cheering on their own team and that’s hating on other teams. It’s with that in mind that we decided to take a look at those sports teams who seem to inspire the most vitriol amongst opposing fans, the ones who nobody likes. Even Gandhi would say “Screw these assholes.” You know, if he was alive. One quick note before we get to the list: we’re keeping it confined to American sports teams, largely because I don’t want to kicked in the face by an angry soccer hooligan because I dared to defame Manchester United, but also because if I don’t take some steps to narrow this thing down, the list will be 50 teams long and will have everyone from Madrid to Sydney howling for my blood, and I don’t want to be a man who’s hated worldwide like Hitler or Donny Osmond. I’m too sweet a soul for that. But there is nothing sweet for these twelve teams (How ‘bout that segue?!) for whom the molten hatred of millions and millions of people is just a way of life.
Photo credit: DigDoug, Flickr
12 University of Miami Football
Ah, The U. To be honest, I kind of like Miami football, but that’s probably because I’m kind of a degenerate. And this list isn’t about my own personal prejudices, it’s about the prejudices of the torch-carrying mob. And the torch-carrying mob loves to hate them some Hurricanes. This is largely because Miami football has long had a reputation for being a gang of wild eyed thugs, vicious Huns with no respect for the rules or for anything else to be honest with you. In the eyes of most Americans, Miami football is little more than one giant rap video, only with more senseless misogyny, brutal violence and outright assholery (Assholery is totally a word. It’s in the dictionary. No, don’t check. Just trust me, okay?) Like I said, I have no problem with this but it’s easy to see why Farmer Joe from Buttlick, Iowa would think otherwise and unfortunately, that’s enough to get Miami’s football program on this list.
Photo credit: YouTube/CanesAllAccess
11 San Francisco 49ers
Lots of sports franchises are hated in the moment, when they’re on top of the world and everyone just wants to see them fall, but it takes a special franchise to remain hated even after they’ve taken that fall, and that’s why the 49ers are on this list. Even though they haven’t been good for a while now, people still hate them because they remember the way that they dominated the NFL for a decade plus, a decade plus of unsurpassed arrogance led by a golden boy quarterback named Joe Montana and a decade plus which saw them seem to become the living embodiment of what a lot of people despise about the Bay Area the team represents. They weren’t a down and dirty blue collar team. They were white collar, they were skill players, they were wine and cheese instead of beer and pretzels. Right or wrong that’s why people hated them and that’s why they’re still hated today.
Photo credit: Big Ed Mustapha, Flickr
10 Boston Celtics
People hate the Celtics for two reasons. First of all, they’re winners. No team in the history of professional basketball has been more successful than the Celtics and that makes them a target of every downtrodden fan who’s had to watch his own sorry ass team flounder around in mediocrity and failure. And second, for a long time the Celtics had a reputation for – how do I put this delicately – being perhaps the Klan’s favorite team. (Okay, so I gave up on the whole delicate thing. Sorry. It’s not my strong suit.) Aside from Bill Russell, for a long time most of the Celtics star players were notoriously lacking in melanin. Yes from Bob Cousy and John Havlicek to Larry Bird and Kevin McHale the Celtics seemed to represent – whether it was fair or not – all those who longed for the days of whites only toilets and Rosa Parks sitting her ass down on the back of that bus. And while that has changed in recent years with stars such as Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, people still remember that it wasn’t all that long ago that the Celtics were capable of throwing an all-white lineup out on the floor. Maybe that’s not fair – it almost certainly isn’t – but this list isn’t about fair, it’s about why people hate certain teams, and well, there you go.
Photo credit: Erik Cleves Kristensen, Flickr
9 Detroit Red Wings
I’ll be honest here – I am a huge Red Wings fan. I’ve loved them since I was a little kid and I cheered like crazy when Darren McCarty beat the crap out of that coward Claude Lemieux (and here come the angry comments…) But even I can understand why fans of other teams hate the Red Wings. First of all, like the Celtics, everyone hates the Red Wings because they’ve been so damn good for so damn long. But people also hate the Red Wings because they don’t represent the kind of blue collar, tough Canadian ethos so beloved by many hockey fans. Instead, the Red Wings have famously embraced a more finesse style of hockey, relying on European play-making machines instead of toothless grinders. You know, pretty boy hockey. Obviously, I think that’s a bit simplistic, but like it or not that is the perception and that’s why people hate the Red Wings and that’s why they’re on this list.
Photo credit: somegeekintn, Flickr
8 USC Football
USC football has long been associated with glitz and glamor, truly a team that fits in well in Los Angeles. That’s great, but the only problem is that a lot of people, uh, kinda sorta hate Los Angeles and everything it represents. Not me, of course, because I’m a gentleman, but when most people think of Los Angeles, they think of a plastic Sodom and Gomorrah, a world filled with fake people and degenerate heathens. This is also what people think of when they think of USC football. They think of O.J. Simpson’s irrational hatred for waiters. They think of Matt Leinart chilling in a hot tub like Hugh Hefner. They think of Reggie Bush cheating and screwing Kardashians. And finally, they think of a stadium filled with botoxed assholes and air headed bimbos who just want to be seen more than they want to see their team actually win. Hey, I like L.A. I like any city where the words “ridiculous” and “hedonistic” are two of the most prominent adjectives used to describe it. But I understand why a lot of people don’t, and unfortunately for USC, this also means that a lot of people hate them too. Oh, and they cheated their asses off for the last decade. That too.
Photo credit: Hot Rod Homepage, Flickr
7 Boston Red Sox
For years – decades, really – the Red Sox have been the heroic underdogs struggling against the most hated baseball team in the world, the New York Yankees (don’t worry, we’re getting to them.) But then they beat the Yankees, and when they did, a funny thing happened – the Red Sox basically became the Yankees. Yes, in their obsession to finally slay their rivals, the Red Sox engaged in a terrible arms race, spending tens of millions of dollars more than anyone else besides the Yankees to get to the top. And when it was all over and the Red Sox had finally triumphed, the rest of the baseball world looked at them and then looked at the Yankees and couldn’t really tell the difference between the two teams. Oh, and Boston? You’ve won roughly one billion championships between your sports teams in the last decade so you can quit it with that whole underdog, woe is me crap, okay? Nobody’s buying it anymore.
Photo credit: dherrera_96, Flickr
6 New England Patriots
The Patriots are basically this era’s San Francisco 49ers, which is great for them because it means that they get to win a whole bunch of Super Bowls, but on the downside it means that everyone else just wants to see their golden boy quarterback get his head ripped off and their arrogant coach get humiliated. I mean, come on, Tom Brady is married to Gisele Bundchen and he models for Uggs Boots. Of course everyone hates him. I mean, it’s not like these are opera fans he’s playing in front of every week. These are blue collar NFL fans. They have been conditioned from birth to hate someone like Tom Brady and that means that they hate his team too, the Patriots. Of course, there was also that whole Spygate thing from a few years back, which exposed Bill Belichick and his boys as a gang of cheaters and then there was their embracing of Randy Moss, and… damn, it’s no wonder people hate these guys.
Photo credit: Brian J. McDermott, Flickr
5 Los Angeles Lakers
Like USC football, to most people, the Lakers represent everything that people despise about Hollywood. Glitzy, kind of soft, hollow on the inside – these are the things that Lakers haters point to. To them, the Lakers lack soul. They lack heart and they get by because the NBA airdrops in crooked refs to save the day like Commandos in a war-torn jungle whenever the Lakers desperately need a win. I’m not saying that’s right, but that’s the perception. The Lakers are the team of the establishment and people hate the establishment. It’s one of the fundamental principles which drives mankind. That may be a little deep for an article on hateable sports teams, but it’s true. People hate the Lakers because the Lakers seem like the sort of team their boss roots for, the sort of team that has a crowd full of pampered millionaires and a roster full of sex fiends and freaks. Like it or not, that’s just the way people see it and that’s why the Lakers are on this list.
Photo credit: scott mecum, Flickr
4 Notre Dame Football
It’s not hard to understand why people hate Notre Dame football. Their fans come across as delusional self-righteous blowhards who fetishize some sort of idealized past in which Knute Rockne kills Hitler with an uppercut and the Gipper rises from the grave to atone for the sins of all mankind. It’s ridiculous and nauseating and arrogant as hell. It doesn’t help that it’s obvious that Notre Dame really does think it’s better than anyone else. They have their own network deal, they refuse to join a conference and they basically carry on like the rest of the college football world exists to serve their needs. Also, all of their players get their powers from Satanic rituals and by drinking the blood of newborn infants. Okay, fine, not really, but still, there is a lot to hate about Notre Dame and anyone who tries to argue that they don’t belong on this list is certifiably insane.
Photo credit: West Point Public Affairs, Flickr
3 Dallas Cowboys
America’s Team. And really, that says it all right there. Any team arrogant enough to actually call itself “America’s Team” is going to have its share of haters. It doesn’t help that in the last couple of decades, the Cowboys have been led by an oily old huckster who seems like the type of dude who would literally steal candy from a baby. And it really doesn’t help that their star players had a reputation in the past for being just as likely to be caught dancing in a crack house as they are to be caught dancing in the end zone. And it really, really doesn’t help that most of their fan base seems to be comprised of bandwagon jumpers who fell in love with the Cowboys just because they were the biggest, most popular team already out there. Being a fan of the Cowboys just seems soulless and artificial, like being a fan of Coca-Cola or Budweiser. I mean, who likes rooting for Goliath? Apparently Cowboys fans do. But most people don’t and that’s why the Dallas Cowboys are on this list.
Photo credit: USAG-Humphreys, Flickr
2 Duke Basketball
Duke’s basketball team seems like it’s always comprised of a bunch of dudes who could easily pass for the bad guys in a stereotypical ‘80s movie. Whether it’s Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley or J.J. Redick, Duke has made a name for itself trotting out hateable frat boy types led by their little Napoleon of a coach, Mike Krzyzewski. I mean, seriously, you half expect to see them terrorizing the Karate Kid at halftime of their games. And, of course, it doesn’t help that despite all this, they remain wildly successful. Duke is a team of privilege, a team of Haves trying to steal every last bit of happiness from a world full of Have-Nots. And that’s why everyone hates them.
Photo credit: wjarretc, Flickr
1 New York Yankees
As if any other team could be number one on this list. The Yankees are synonymous with the sort of big-moneyed greed which people hate about sports. They win simply because they outspend everyone else and they just take and take and take, and while you can’t blame them for taking advantage of the way the system is set up, nobody likes to root for a team that has all sorts of built in advantages like the Yankees do. Call it sour grapes, but it’s just the way it is. There’s a reason people call the Detroit Red Wings the “Yankees of hockey” or Manchester United the “Yankees of soccer” or… you get the point. The Yankees name itself has come to be associated with everything people hate about sports. They are a symbol, like Goliath or Enron, of the oppressive and the mighty, of everything that ordinary people struggle to overcome in their own lives. The New York Yankees are your boss or your ex’s new boyfriend with the Ferrari or your landlord. If the Yankees didn’t exist, people would have to invent them, and that’s because they serve a purpose for fans everywhere. They are the team that it’s okay to rail against, to complain about, to just… hate. And that’s because everyone else understands. Everyone else gets it. Because they all hate the Yankees too.
Photo credit: sillygwailo, Flickr
(previously published on October 20, 2011.)