It is generally believed that sports fans are most impressionable between the ages of six to 10. During this time they gain a stronger foothold on the sports they really enjoy and the ones they don’t really care about. Favorite players are identified, team loyalties are entrenched and the idea of what it means to be a fan becomes much more clear. This inherently includes establishing a vivid hatred of the teams that always seems to win if they aren’t your favorite.
Because my impressionable years came between 1998 and 2002, these objects of pure aversion became the Yankees and Lakers. It didn’t matter who they played against, as long as Derek Jeter and Kobe Bryant were involved in the game I wanted the other team to win. In my mind these teams represented everything evil about sports dynasties and became increasingly frustrating to watch. There wasn’t a happier soul when the Arizona Diamondbacks finally dethroned the Yankees in 2001 or when the Pistons sent Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal packing in 2004.
But now the shoe is on the other foot.
The Chicago Blackhawks are in the Western Conference finals for the fourth time in six seasons. They are trying for their third title in four years. They are on the verge of being a dynasty. I couldn’t be happier, but I know there are kids around the country that despise Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews just as much I as hated Jeter and Bryant.
Simultaneously I think of the Yankee and Laker fans who were so happy while I was so miserable. I think about how both teams spent the decade prior to their dominance void of anything to celebrate and about the legions of fans that stayed dedicated to the world of sports because of them.
And when I take the big picture into account I realize that no concept in sports brings out the best and worst of fan emotions more than that of a dynasty. Whether or not you think they are good for the sports world tends to be based solely on whether or not you are a fan of the team currently experiencing one.
So as these final weeks of the Stanley Cup playoffs wind down I’ll passionately embrace both the support for the Chicago Blackhawks as well as the vitriol opposing fans give them, because that’s what happens to champions.
Except the Miami Heat. I think we can all agree that they must be vanquished and disbanded immediately.