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You Can't Fake Hate

I understand hating ones rival. It's certainly not a foreign concept to a life-long sports fan. I have hated the Tennessee Volunteers for as long as I can remember; as a child I was only allowed to swear when partaking in chants directed towards their sideline. The mere mention of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim drives my blood pressure to dangerous levels, and though I am generally exceedingly well-behaved at sporting events, I've come close on several occasions to being ejected from Safeco Field when the Angels are in town. I am a non-judgmental person by nature, but a Red Sox or Yankees hat is very nearly the worst first impression that can be made upon me.

Rivalries make plenty of sense, at least in the context of something so inherently irrational as sports fandom. The Vols beat up on lowly Memphis State as a matter of routine and carried with them an air of entitlement. The Angels are good in a fashion that is beyond annoying and represent Orange County which is an area that represents nearly everything about humanity that I find intolerable. The Red Sox and Yankees buy success and encourage their fans to rub said success in the faces of their competitors in the most obnoxious fashion possible. (For those of you unacquainted with professional baseball, think Liverpool and Manchester United respectively.) I have reasons to hate these teams.

And I suppose that, as a Villa fan, I have reason to hate Birmingham City. I know the history of the rivalry and the reasons behind it are certainly clear. It's just that, I don't. I can't, really. I don't like them, obviously. I'd even go so far as to say that I like them less than other teams of their stature. But hate? No. Not yet at least. For some reason, this bothers me. It shouldn't; it's entirely rational. I don't live in Birmingham, I've never even been to Birmingham, there's a very real chance I'll never go to Birmingham. City are certainly up-and-coming, but to my relatively untrained eye they seem to be no real immediate threat to Villa's standing in the EPL.

And yet, I don't want sports to be rational, or at least certain parts of my experience as a fan. I pride myself on being a rational person; it's a huge part of my identity, and I attempt to make every possible decision based on a thought process based upon sound reasoning. And while I certainly attempt to be rational in my analysis, I want every part of my experience as a sports fan that is grounded in emotion to be completely divorced from reason. I want to hate the Angels, I want to hate the Vols, and I want to hate the Blues.

But I don't. Hate Birmingham City, that is. I hope to get to that point, and I think that I will soon enough. But missing out on what seems like a central part of Villa fandom is tough. For now, my fiery burning hatred of United is more pressing, that's for certain. But City sure as hell need to do something to piss me off, and soon.