Do I Have To Hate My Team's Rival Premier League Club?

Sports News - February 08, 2009

With the North London derby approaching, I want nothing more than for Arsenal to destroy Tottenham and get all three points, just like I do every week no matter who they play.

Except, that is, the days that Arsenal is playing Tottenham. I do not have anything against Tottenham or wish the worst for them. As a matter a fact, I enjoy watching Tottenham and want them to win often as I enjoy their play. I like some of their players and have great respect for their team. I am a fan of the game and the league so I love watching quality Premier League football from a quality side such as Tottenham. However, as an Arsenal supporter, I feel like enjoying Tottenham is almost a sacrilege and could possibly call my fanhood into question. As an American who supports Arsenal and enjoys the Premier League, I don’t think I am subject to hate my rival, and neither are you. Here’s why:

I feel rivalries are more intense for the fans, locally. The rivalry begins with the fact that the supporters live near each other, know each other, go to school with each other, and are constantly at odds with each other about their local team. This does not apply to an American supporter of a team on another continent. The love of an overseas league trumps any rivalry as it is not normal. It takes a lot to follow a team and a league that is not in your own country. It is far too silly to hate a team I enjoy watching just because I am “supposed” to.

Also, I don’t believe Arsenal and Tottenham players hate each other. Or that Wenger and Redknapp hate each other just because they play for rival clubs. There may be other reasons, but I don’t believe the kit they are wearing has anything to do with it. It is very rare for a player to actually play for the local team he grew up supporting. Many of the players aren’t even from England. The players have loyalty to the team that pays them. Yes, they care about winning, and have love and respect for the fans, but they want to win every time they step on the pitch.

Any given player could be playing on a different club 6 months from now, they are professionals, getting paid to perform for the current shirt they are wearing. So why should I hate a club (unless they are playing my team or I want them to lose a game because of points on the table) if the very players wearing the Arsenal shirt don’t despise Tottenham for any particular reason, just because the rivalry exists amongst the fans in North London?

I love watching the game of football, I am very proud that as an American I can appreciate a sport that is not very popular here. Therefore, I am not about to hate a “rival” team every time they play, against my team or not, just because North London thinks I should. I fully respect the local fans rivalry however, because I think rivalries make sports great. I love watching the derbies because I know the atmosphere in the stadium and the build up to the match will make the stakes even higher, and the game that much more enjoyable to watch. But I still respect Tottenham and love watching them play. That being said, I want Arsenal to dominate tomorrow, just I like I do every week no matter who they play.

Do you have a hate for your team’s rival? Do feel you should hate Everton because you support Liverpool, or City because you support United?

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