Keola Birano gets to the core of his extreme rooting interest against Florida State and Jameis Winston. (Hint: It’s about good things happening to bad people).
Last Saturday I watched in rapture as the clock on Florida State Seminoles undefeated season slowly slipped away. I couldn’t keep still as I jumped up for every play.Each touchdown and defensive stand the Notre Dame Fighting Irish made was like a shot of adrenaline.
Then like it has been all season for Florida State, they started mounting a comeback. If I were in a horror movie, the theme song from Friday the 13th would have been playing in the background as I paced back and forth waiting for my inevitable demise. Every touchdown Florida State made was like a sedative that brought me back down to earth and put my ass back on the couch.
With knots in my stomach I watched in horror as the lead slowly diminished until Florida State took control in the 4th quarter. Still holding onto a flicker of hope, I strained to watch the end of the game as my kids scream at me for their attention. Every first down the Irish started to make transformed my flicker into a raging bonfire.
It felt like the College Football Gods were smiling down as the Irish converted a 4th and long.
Karma seemed to be calling when the Irish scored a touchdown that lifted me off my feet and caused my children to scatter like field mice.
I couldn’t contain my joy as I pumped my fist in the air as if I wore an Irish uniform.
But the joyous occasion would be short lived as the camera panned over the referees, which is never a good sign. Like a monster that comes back to life at the end of the movie, Florida State rose from the ashes and in the end the Seminoles would be celebrating while I had to deal with a mild depression for the remainder of the day.
When I went to bed a thought crossed my mind as I recalled the heartbreaking loss again, “Why do I care so much?” Why did I care about this game?
I wasn’t a fan of either team but for some reason I was invested in the outcome.
From this small epiphany, I peeled away the surface level reasons that all fans have to find that all of my passion for the game stemmed from one overarching source.
I don’t like it when good things happen to bad people.
Who are the bad people?
In this case it’s Jameis Winston and the Florida State system that seems to have bowed to the god of winning. Simply put, I wanted Jameis Winston to lose, because I believe he’s a bad person.
I know that my feelings may be irrational. They based on what I hear and read online. It’s true that I may not know the whole story, and I don’t know him personally. But nonetheless, based on what I’ve seen and heard, in my gut I don’t believe he deserves to be successful.
I know this may sounds self-righteous of me, but I don’t think I’m alone in this frame of thought. When you think about the American dream, it’s founded on the principle that through hard work you can get ahead. When you mix in religion, you end up believing – like I do – that success happens to those who are righteous, the good people.
Think about it for a second.
What do you feel when you find out someone you believe to be good ends up losing their job? Do you feel compassion or sorrow? You probably feel pity for the person and hope they can bounce back on their feet. You may even try to help them.
Now what if we change the scenario and the person who loss their job isn’t someone you’d consider good? Would you feel the compassion? Would you try to help them or would feel they had it coming? If they’d just been a better person then maybe they wouldn’t have loss their job.
I see this play out with the narrative surrounding homelessness. There are people who look down on the homeless because they think it’s their own doing. That some how the homeless must have done something wrong to earn their seat at the foot of society. They must have done drugs or maybe they were lazy. By accepting this assumption we assume that success is correlated with righteousness.
So what happens when someone is successful even though we believe they’re a rotten person?
We get mad. We wish ill. We hope they get hurt, which is something that my co-worker said when we discussed Jameis Winston. He was so disgusted with his perceived behavior and success that he hoped he’d get injured on top of losing a game.
Why do we care if good things happen to bad people? Should we care? I care because I believe people who do their best to live a descent life should be rewarded.
That narrative is what keeps society from plunging head over heels into a dog eat dog world. It’s what keeps my kids in line when they’re misbehaving. In sports, it provides our young people the role models they deserve and crave.
Sadly, the cold hard fact is that bad things happen to good people and likewise good things happen to bad people. It’s inevitable; therefore, we cannot correlate success with righteousness.
How do we know a person like Peyton Manning isn’t a bad person behind closed doors? He very well could be but we’d never know unless the media tells us as the case with Ray Rice who at one time was considered a great person.
So when you’re rooting for or against someone, ask yourself: Why do I care so much?
You just might learn that your rooting interest says less about the player and more about you.
(Photo Credit: Associated Press/File )