There's a popular urban legend that says that Eskimos/Inuits (depending on who you listen to) have something approaching 50 different words for snow. It sounds absurd on the surface, but then when you think about it, English has several words for snow, too. There's snow, snowflakes, snow flurries, blizzard, and...sleet, I guess, but sleet isn't snow. Okay, so we have like 4.5 words to kind of describe snow. Precipitation is either snow or it's not - it's that simple.
It's not so simple with a word as complex as hate. If you hate broccoli, that's an innocent thing (and also it's stupid, because broccoli is the king of green vegetables). On the other hand, if you hate a certain race of people, that's what we call a problem. When we use a word like hate, we can mean one of those two extremes, or more than likely something in between. You can hate Justin Bieber because it annoys you that he's constantly trending on Twitter for making bad music, or you can hate your neighbor for killing your dog by throwing a T-bone soaked in rat poison over your fence because she barks all night long. Or you can hate your neighbor for having a dog that barks all night long. You get the idea.
The same nuance applies to sports.
Sports Hate - it can be a beautiful thing, if harnessed correctly. Watching sports serves as catharsis in many ways for our real world problems. It's no coincidence that viewership of sports is up during this latest economic recession - people are trying to escape. I've always maintained that fantasy sports is a redundant term, because we all live out our fantasies through the guys on the field. We use the words "we" and "us" when describing our favorite teams, and yes, we derive a certain amount of satisfaction whenever that prima donna wide receiver we hate gets killed by a safety going through the middle. It's natural.
I think I hate more teams than I actually like, because each team I root for requires that I hate at least 2 or 3 other teams as a result. I hate Sunderland because they're scum; I hate Liverpool for taking Andy Carroll; I hate Manchester United because I'm a decent human. The same goes with players - I hate Gareth Bale because he's overrated (PFA Player of the Year - really?); I hate Nigel De Jong for breaking Hatem Ben Arfa's leg and then suggesting that it wasn't his fault; I hate Luka Modric because he is ugly as sin. The list of players I truly support for reasons other than playing on my favorite team is quite short in comparison.
It bothers me, then, when somebody suggests that I shouldn't hate a certain player. Maybe they mean that I shouldn't wish that they would be imprisoned and tortured, or that I shouldn't throw a banana on the field when they play. I understand that, but sports hate doesn't have to be that black and white. You can hate Wayne Rooney like you hate broccoli or Justin Bieber, but if you hate him like you do pedophiles or the people who robbed your house last Christmas, you've probably taken it too far.
I mention all of this because when it comes to Andy Carroll's first game against Newcastle (assuming he's fit), the temptation is to write a post telling you whether or not you should hate him. If you support Newcastle and you don't buy the story that Carroll was suddenly and forcefully pushed out the door because Mike Ashley needed a little walking around money, you probably hate him to some degree. The question is, how much? Do you hate him enough to set his car on fire? Do you hate him enough to call him Judas? Do you hate him enough boo him? Or do you just hate him enough to root against him and hope he never scores another goal? Or, do you see enough redeeming qualities in him to give him a pass? Tell us in the comments.