I don’t really think I can root for Linfield sports anymore.
Let me clarify. I have no desire to cheer for the teams, but I’m not actively rooting against them. See, athletics is a pretty big deal here. Too big, truth be told. Success isn’t expected here; it’s mandatory. And that has made the school into a powerhouse, knocking off opponents with ease. Even the struggling teams here are hanging around in the middle of the standings, not in the cellar.
Everybody loves an under-dog. Watching the team that nobody wrote in as the victor climb up and snatch victory from the clutches of the favored team is one of the more enjoyable experiences in sports. So why would I want to root for that favored team, that team that everyone knows is going the whole way and keeps telling the world why they’re the best?
Winning repeatedly isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. But the mentality that arises among victors can only be described by one word: arrogance. Remember how everyone loved the Boston Red Sox in 2004, and now they’ve become the most annoying franchise in Major League Baseball?
Winning is great and all, but it comes with a price. There’s an aura of superiority among the athletes on this campus that should be concerning.
But it isn’t. Sports here are so untouchable, it’s insane. Criticism of teams is met with anger and derision by the conglomerated athletic body. Linfield is overdriven by sports, and it shows, repeatedly, by the neglect and lack of respect that other areas of the college receive.
I’ve learned two things from athletes here: Sports are more important than whatever I’m doing, and Linfield is amazing at every sport. The first thing is a mentality that is sadly shared by numerous individuals here. The second is something that should be said through action, not through the mouths of those playing.
I can’t root for these teams. They’re every team I’ve ever hated, built as an unrelenting dynasty that makes its way by being great and sharing it with the world over and over. We’re Goliath. And I can’t root for Goliath. I think it’s worth noting that hubris is what finally brought Goliath down.
When it’s all about winning — and it is, even if it’s not admitted — the idea of battling and working toward success drives people to achieve victory. There’s a lot of work, a lot of passion and a lot of strength necessary to get there, but athletes always doing their best because they think they deserve to hold that trophy (or banner, etc.).
Imagine, then, the feeling of euphoria they receive when they finally reach that summit and claim their prize. Now imagine them winning again and again. Eventually, that confidence to make it is replaced by a feeling of entitlement to that success. They almost immediately lose their appeal. Understand where I’m coming from now?
The arrogance from constant success permeates the mind very quickly, and I want no part of it.
Matt Olson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.