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What does your football fandom say about you?

I have a not-so-secret vice: I love watching football. There's something magical about the artistry of the players: the pinpoint cross, the nutmeg turn, the perfectly-timed tackle, the thunderbastard goal, and even the simple one-two passing sequence. And, like most football fans, I have a particular team that I follow and support: Tottenham Hotspur, also known simply as "Spurs". Yes, I know, this is an unfortunate situation; Tottenham haven't won a trophy since 2008, so I really don't get much opportunity to celebrate. But what can I do? I've chosen my tribe, and now I'm stuck with them. And despite the lack of trophies, I love my team, I feel elated when they win, and I'm gutted when they lose.

Recently, the Premier League served up one of the most entertaining set-ups I can ever remember: Manchester City were playing at Tottenham in the second-last game of the season. They were behind Arsenal by a point and needed a win over Spurs, otherwise Arsenal would be near certain to win the title. At stake for Spurs was a possible place in the Champions League, Europe's richest competition. So, obviously, Spurs fans would be hyped up and right behind their team for this high-stakes fixture.


Well, it's complicated. You see, what I didn't mention before is that Spurs and Arsenal are massive rivals; their respective stadiums are a few kilometers apart in North London, and there's a history of bad blood between the clubs. Spurs fans support Spurs and whoever is playing Arsenal; the converse is true for Arsenal fans.

So now, the conundrum facing Spurs fans was this: if Spurs won - or even got a draw - against City, it would hand the Premier League title on a plate to their hated rivals. And, believe it or not, a significant part, if not a majority, of the Spurs fanbase was at the stadium, cheering for Manchester City and hoping for their own team to lose. Not only that, but on social media, there was an almost overwhelming sentiment of, "I don't care about Champions League; if you're ok with handing the league to Arsenal, you're not a true Spurs fan."

Funnily enough, I posted a poll on X (formerly Twitter) at the beginning of this season that kind of foreshadowed this scenario. If you're in any doubt as to how much Arsenal lives rent-free in Spurs fans' heads, here are the results:

Honestly, I didn't know anything about this great rivalry when I started supporting Spurs; it was only later that I was told that if I support Spurs, I have to hate Arsenal. Ok, I get it, rivalry, adds an extra dimension of needle to the competition, and I have a lot of fun banter with my Arsenal-supporting friends. But that's it; we're still friends, even though we support opposing teams. To hear the rest of the Spurs fanbase talk, you'd think this was a war to the death with an evil foe that cannot ever be allowed to succeed.

I was reminded of a parable of a king who brought before him two men who hated each other. He said to the one, "You may choose any reward you want from me. Name your price, and I will give it to you. But whatever you ask for, I willl give twice as much to your rival." The man thought for a minute and said, "I ask that you blind my one eye."

I was also reminded of a famous quote by Golda Meir: "Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us."

Seriously, what does your football fandom say about you? Are you the guy who will refuse any success, and have his eye blinded, just to see his rival suffer more than him?

This is a loser philosophy in life. Your own success should be far more important to you than seeing your rival fail.

I don't care whether you support Spurs, Arsenal, or any other team. Watch your football, enjoy it, cheer for your team, and what the heck, you can even cheer for the team that's playing against your rivals. But don't be a loser - not in football fandom, and not in life.


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