With great expectations, the Saints open the 2014 season against the Falcons in Atlanta this Sunday and that makes this week “Hate the Falcons Week!” Since I often talk about how there is too much “hate” in this country – I had to ask myself if it is appropriate to promote the idea of hating the Falcons – and of course their fans, too?
Honestly, I did not have to do much soul searching before reaching the conclusion that it is ok to “hate” the Falcons and their fans! Hate for the Falcons and their fans and the reciprocal hate they have for the Saints and Saints fans is an acceptable part of the world of sports. Hate for sports rivals – the Saints and the Falcons – the Tigers and the Tide – reflect the intense passion fans have for teams that has always been part of the sports world.
In our culture, we often use words in ways that reach beyond their specific definitions. For example, when a Saints fan says he/she hopes the Saints “kill” the Falcons this Sunday – they don’t literally mean “kill” the players. I’m sure some do – but for most it is just an exaggerated expression of passion for the Saints.
Saints fans hate the Falcons and their fans – we hate what they do and what they stand for - but we don’t hate the individuals who play for the Falcons – with the exception of Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Julio Jones.
It is easy to hate Falcons fans for their undying loyalty to the team Saints fans hate. Those Falcons fans cheer wildly for their team and jeer at the Saints and Saints fans. They act like they are so much better than Saints fans and the degree with which they demonize Saints fans justifies the feelings of hate for those individuals.
The behavior of Falcons fans, much of which will be captured by the network TV cameras during Sunday’s game, puts many parents in a position of explaining their behavior in a public place to their children – thus forcing their children to deal with adult matters at an early age.
When the TV cameras focus on Falcons fans in the stadium, there will be young children who will ask an embarrassing question like: “Daddy, why are those two men jumping up and down and hugging each other?” To which the parent must respond with an answer like: “Son, their behavior is an abomination. You know your mother and I don’t approve of that lifestyle and it’s not something we want you exposed to.”
Adding to the challenge for the parents who want to help their kids deal with the inappropriate behavior of Falcons fans are the national network announcers – the media – that makes it seem as if being a Falcons fan is acceptable behavior. Yes, we all hear a lot of talk about fan equality in America and how all fans should be respected and not judged – but when you witness the blatant attempts by Falcons fans to force their beliefs on others – you can’t help but wonder if our society is falling apart.
There is also the uncomfortable issue of Falcons fans marrying each other - as if that’s a positive thing for society. Good luck explaining that to your children!
At least the game is in Atlanta this Sunday – but when the Falcons play the Saints in New Orleans – parents will face the challenge of explaining to their kids why Falcons fans are walking down the streets of the city holding hands and even kissing in public. If they would just keep their lifestyle behind closed doors!
The hate Saints fans have for the Falcons and Falcons fans is justified – even in a world where there is too much hate!