Wednesday, February 23, 2022

The 10 stages of rooting against your own team

The NHL is a 32-team league with 32 different fan bases, each of which is unique. Some are big, some not so much. Some are more than a century old, some are brand new. Some are spoiled with years of excellence, some have had their ups and downs, and some never seem to get to be happy at all.

But there’s one thing that every NHL fan has in common: We want our team to win


That’s the reality of being a hockey fan, especially at this time of year. We can throw around all the clich├ęs we want about how winning is everything, but it isn’t, at least not all the time. And depending on circumstances, winning might actually feel like a problem.

When that happens, you’ve entered a very controversial zone as a hockey fan. You have to decide if you’ll cross a line, and start rooting for your team to lose.

Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. But it’s a perilous place, one where you want to tread carefully. And since I have some experience in this world, I want to offer you a guide. I’ve prepared a list of the ten stages of rooting against your own team, so that you can be prepared for what you might face, and for just how deep you want to go.

Stage 1: Apathy

We’ll ease into our list with a category that doesn’t really involve rooting against your team at all. Instead, at Stage 1, you just stop caring… temporarily. The season isn’t going well and you know it. You also know that one bad year isn’t the end of the world, and that even the best-run teams will go through it eventually.

You’re fine with it. You’re just especially interested in watching it all play out.

Honestly, this stage can be a pretty reasonable place to be. You’re not bailing on your team. You’re just backing away from committing a ton of time and mental energy to caring about them. You tune out, maybe check back in around the deadline, keep on top of any major developments, and then return to the fold in the offseason, rested and ready to go.

The stage makes our list only because it’s often confused with a fan rooting against their own team. But it’s not. You don’t want them to lose, you just don’t really care if they do.

Stage 2: Rooting for lottery odds (after playoff elimination)

OK, now you want them to lose.

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