Hoping The Ravens Get Crushed

When my team isn’t playing in the big game — which, given the Browns’ record of utter futility, means this rule applies to every one of the XLVII Super Bowls ever played — I usually root against one team, rather than for the other.  I pick the team that I despise the most and hope that they suffer a devastating, humiliating loss.  (I realize this makes me appear to be a small, highly negative person, but that’s probably an accurate depiction of my character, anyway.)

This year, the choice of which team to root against is easy.  I’m hoping that San Francisco beats the whey out of the Ravens.  I root against the Ravens because, on a grim, star-crossed day years ago, greed-addled Art Modell decided to follow the dollar signs and move the Browns franchise to Baltimore, thereby carving the beating hearts out of hundreds of thousands of loyal Browns fans.  With that fateful decision, the now-deceased Modell earned the opprobrium of all Browns fans for the rest of eternity.  I hope children born into the families of Browns fans for generations to come are taught to despise the sight and memory of Art Modell.

I also root against the Ravens because I abhor their carefully cultivated, bad boy image.  I loathe Ray Lewis and his histrionics, and it sickens me that he has the chance to end his career with a Super Bowl win — although the stories about his alleged use of deer antler velvet extract have taken some of the shine from Lewis’ time in the spotlight.  I hate the cheap shot tendencies of their defense and their showboating.  The Ravens are one of those teams that, in my book, epitomize just about everything that is wrong with professional sports these days.

I don’t care about the 49ers, or the match-up of the Harbaugh brothers, or any of the other story lines leading to today’s games.  Although I won’t be watching today’s game as a personal protest of the money-drenched, ugly culture of professional sports, I’ll be hoping the 49ers smash the Ravens and win the most lopsided Super Bowl in history.  I’ll be hoping that every 49ers fan shows up at the game wearing a full rack of deer antlers.  I’ll be hoping that Ray Lewis whiffs on countless tackles and gets stiff-armed to the turf a time or two.  I’ll be hoping that, at the end of the game, Ray Lewis and the rest of his thuggish Ravens teammates are shown on the bench, blubbering like babies at having been embarrassed in front of millions of TV viewers.

I need to give 49ers fans fair warning, however — the sports results I root for almost never happen.  This likely means that the Ravens will win tonight, and Ray Lewis will be the toast of sportsdom.  Ugh.

When Rivalries Get Ugly

The San Francisco 49ers played the Oakland Raiders last night.  Although the two towns are separated only by the San Francisco Bay, they are fierce rivals.

Last night’s game was marked by significant violence.  Two guys were shot, and another guy was seriously beaten in a stadium bathroom.  The story on the violence also features a video of a slugfest in the stands between two big guys who probably had too much to drink and were mouthing off until things got physical.

I’ve been to Browns games where violence seemed to lurk just below the surface, and it is a scary scenario.  After all, when you go to a professional football game you are sitting with tens of thousands of strangers, many of whom have been drinking steadily as they have enjoyed the on the field violence.  It makes for a volatile situation.  It doesn’t take much to move things from taunting to brawling, and once a brawl breaks out it can spread easily.  And then, suddenly, you go from an orderly scene, where you are sitting with other fans watching a sports event, to a melee where the guy sitting next to you could decide he wants to punch you out because he doesn’t like your t-shirt or can’t figure out any other way to deal with the testosterone rush.

I’m convinced that the vast majority of sports fan fights are alcohol-related.  Sports teams could cut back on the fighting if they cut back on the beer service — but they don’t because that would cut back on the profits, too.