Just a little over a week out from the Super Bowl, reports indicate the AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs are now the most hated team in the NFL.

That designation comes from software that studies social media sites and picks up negative sentiment by scanning key words. The Dallas Cowboys previously occupied the top spot, followed by the Philadelphia Eagles. Longtime fans from the City of Brotherly Love will remember the famous incident where Santa Claus was once pelted with snowballs. It’s a tough city with passionate (and maybe even some unhinged) fans to match.

Even though sports are supposed to be entertainment and escape, it can also elicit the best and worst of people. At the beginning of this past football season, fan Dale Mooney, 53, died after being punched in the face at a New England Patriots’ game.

Yet, there’s a significant distinction between outright violence and hatred of a successful team, of course. It should be noted that even the use of the word “hate” has become a bit expansive. Traditionally, use of the word has been reserved for extreme and intense dislike, but with so many people expressing opinions about almost anything and everything on social media, “hate” is thrown around quite a bit these days.

But should we really hate success?

The Kansas City Chiefs have been undeniably successful, appearing in six straight AFC Championships and now four of the last five Super Bowls. If they win next week in Las Vegas, they’ll be deserving of the “dynasty” designation, having won three of the last five years.

Winning fatigue isn’t new, nor are the Chiefs an anomaly. Historically, people have come to hate dynastic teams in various sports, including the New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys, New York Islanders, and the University of Notre Dame football team.

Some fans defend their resentment by citing how big market teams in certain sports enjoy a financial advantage and have even “bought” championships with the extra cash they pull in thanks to television and other geographically inspired marketing advantages. “Salary Caps” – agreements limiting the dollars a team can spend – have leveled the playing fields in football and basketball. The implementation of a “luxury tax” in baseball is designed to do the same.

Nevertheless, history also shows more money doesn’t always equate to championships. Last year in baseball, the New York Yankees and New York Mets had the largest payrolls – and neither team even made the playoffs.

Team loyalties notwithstanding, Christians, especially, should celebrate success and not resent those who win or consistently do well. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep,” wrote the apostle Paul. Resentment and bitterness can also wear away at us. “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh,” counseled Solomon, “but envy makes the bones rot” (Proverbs 14:30).

Sadly, resentment doesn’t just manifest in sports rivalries. Critics and antagonists of the family are often bitter and jealous. In essence, they lampoon or ridicule the very thing they desperately want for themselves. Revolutionaries who want to upend sexual norms often do so because biblical fidelity has, for any number of reasons, remained personally elusive.

Those committed to stripping references to America’s Judeo-Christian heritage harbor deep resentment, and for various reasons. Perhaps some have been hurt by something they perceive was faith-inspired. Their idea of retribution is to try and make Christians share in their misery.

At the heart of the issue, however, is often confusion about what true success really is. The world equates success with winning and failure with losing. Yet, that’s not how the Lord sees it at all. Instead, here’s what we read in Deuteronomy:

What does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good (10:12-13).

Taking and implementing this counsel will transform your life and go a long way in melting your love for hating on sport teams, rivals, and even those who have what you desperately want.

But keep in mind success and victory don’t come all at once. “Good and evil both increase at compound interest,” wrote C.S. Lewis. “That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.”

So go ahead and root against the Chiefs or the 49ers – just don’t hate on them. By doing so, you might just be setting yourself up for a big win down the road.


Image from Shutterstock.