Why do we hate winners? The New England Patriots, the Alabama Crimson Tide, the New York Yankees, the list goes on and on. All of these teams are incredibly successful and will likely continue to be for quite some time. They are also really, really hated.
These three in particular have it rough because of lot of really specific enemies with massive fanbases–the Dolphins, Bills, and Jets (two of those franchises were also great in the past)–all crushed under the heels of New England in recent years, the entire SEC trying to catch the Tide and the Yankees typically edging out the other top dog: the Boston Red Socks. But there’s a lot more going against these sports dynasties than that.
We, as the American people, love the story of the underdog. We love it so much, Hollywood shoves it down our throat all the time. Boy from nowhere becomes a hero (Star Wars), girl from nowhere becomes a hero (also Star Wars), boy’s father was also from nowhere and also became a hero (still Star Wars; I watch a lot of Star Wars). The point is, it’s a story we see a lot, and it is one we really enjoy.
This enjoyment of underdog stories stems from the fact that we prefer to be surprised. We want the more unique story to happen. Tom Brady winning his fifth Super Bowl would not be nearly as appealing of a story to the general public as the story of a quarterback who was drafted 199th in the NFL draft, but overcame all the adversity to rise and win a Super Bowl (except that was also Tom Brady). It’s not that we don’t want to see success; we just want to see success where we don’t expect it.
All sane fans of any sporting event get a lot of happiness from seeing a team they want to win actually win. The point is, they really want the team to be facing a team that they have no hope of beating, and then actually winning the game. That’s one of the reasons Americans finally choose the World Cup to start watching soccer; we’re always underdogs (at least the men’s team anyway).
Of course, people will always root for the winning team as well. There’s a reason Gillette Stadium, Bryant–Denny Stadium and Yankee Stadium are packed on nearly every game day. To all of those people, I have just three words: fly, Eagles, fly.