Why America Hates a Winner

James JeffersonContributor IDecember 16, 2008

We hate winners, don't we? Love to see them crash and burn. Any loss, injury, or arrest to a winner puts a smile on our face.

Why is this? Why do we love to watch teams or individual players fail? Ahh, this is the $64,000 question.

Name the most successful players or franchises in professional sports, and the majority of America has them on their "I hate" list, right alongside division or geographic rivalries. The New York Yankees. The Los Angeles Lakers. The Dallas Cowboys. Hate 'em all, don't we? A perfect day in the world of sports for us is a win for our team and a loss for them.

But why do we hate them so much?

First, America loves an underdog. We want to see an upset—we want to be able to say we remember when David slew Goliath. A la Broadway Joe's Jets, Villanova's men's basketball championship in 1985, or more recently, David Tyree's helmet and the New York Giants against the undefeated New England Patriots.

We love to see the wild card win it all, like the Super Bowl championships of the Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens, or Pittsburgh Steelers. We love to see a No. 15 seed beat a No. 2 seed in the men's NCAA tournament. The examples are endless.

Simply put, we love an underdog.

It all goes back to the biggest underdog story of them all, and probably the reason why we have this love affair with underdogs: the American Revolution. After 130+ years under British rule, we decided enough was enough. No one in the world gave us a chance, and yet we pulled off one of the greatest military upsets in the history of the world.

We have this inherent Rodney Dangerfield "I get no respect" quality in us. We want to prove people wrong, root for the Chicago Cubs, or cheer for Belmont to beat Kansas. When the odds are stacked against us is when we feel most comfortable.

But there is one catch to all of this: We don't mind if you win one—just don't win a lot of them. Winners are annoying. For example, the Boston Red Sox. Who wanted to see the Red Sox come back and beat the Tampa Bay Rays this year? No one outside of Red Sox Nation, that's who.

Just a few years back we loved the Red Sox. Loved Manny being Manny, Big Papi's spitting addiction, and Curt Schilling's bloody sock. But they won too much. Now we root for someone to knock the Red Sox off of their pedestal, poke 'em in the eye, and kick some dirt on 'em.

So the next time you find yourself in front of the TV rooting for the Lions to beat the Cowboys, and you live in neither Dallas or Detroit, think about why you want to see Tony Romo get his head knocked off. Is it because you really want to see the underdog win, or is it that you really want to see the Cowboys lose?

I mean, what has Romo done to you? He hasn't won anything...yet.