Bioethics Blogs

Sport hatred redux: Hating arch-rivals

I am a Tottenham fan. (I accept your condolences.) One duty of a Tottenham fan is to hate Arsenal. And I am nothing if not a dutiful lad. Is such hatred justified?


I wrote about this some time ago on this blog. I suggested that sport-hatred was sometimes justified, and that it was when the reasons for sport-hatred mirrored reasons that justify strong emotions such as hatred in non-sports contexts. Here is what I said about hatred for arch-rivals.


. . . we often come to sport-hate arch-rivals. This might seem to be motivated by biases, and thus obviously unjustified. But maybe not. Conflicts between rivals resemble certain kinds of very rare moral conflicts, between good and evil. I say such moral conflicts are rare because it seems to me that transporting the good vs. evil dynamic outside of sports is usually ill-advised (the world is not so clear-cut). But sport, as many have argued, does seem to provide a training ground of sorts – one in which we can identify with one side in a contest, and thereby experience all sorts of emotions and attitudes (including sport-hatred) directed to the other side. Sometimes there exist moralized conflicts in life in which hatred of the opposing side is morally justified, and in which hatred plausibly motivates morally praiseworthy actions (exhibitions of courage, for example). If the reasons for sport-hating another team (because they are your team’s arch-rival, for example) legitimately mirror these conflicts, I would say that sport-hatred of the arch-rival is thereby justified.

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