Schadenfreude and the Super Bowl
I watched a good portion of the second half of a football game yesterday involving the Tennessee Titans and the Baltimore Ravens. It was the longest I have spent in front of a television watching NFL football since the last Super Bowl. Except for my annual viewing of that championship game, I have not watched more than a few minutes of professional football in a number of years. What induced me to watch yesterday ? Schadenfreude.
There is a millionaire in Houston named K.S. “Bud” Adams. He will be 86 years old this year. He is the owner of the Tennessee Titan football team. It is my everlasting hope that that football team never win the Super Bowl until K.S. “Bud” Adams is dead and buried in his grave. That my friends is why I was watching Tennessee play yesterday. They had finished the season as one of the best teams in football, and looked like a shoe in to make the Super Bowl. I noticed that their game with Baltimore yesterday was very close and I tuned in to focus whatever cosmic will power I have on another effort to defeat the team of Mr. K.S. “Bud” Adams. After an eventful second half, Baltimore prevailed, and Bud Adams is one more season closer to death, and no closer to the Lombardi Trophy. At the end of the game I jumped up and yelled in triumph.
There was a time when K.S. “Bud” Adams and I were aligned in our wishes that his team go to the Super Bowl. That was prior to his decision to move his team from my hometown of Houston to Nashville and like so much garbage, throw out my 35 solid years of rooting for his team. A team that I lived and died with. So emotionally attached was I to that football team that my wife made me build a spare room onto our garage where I was forced to watch any Houston game so that she, and later my daughter, were not subjected to my screams and curses and the hurling of items against walls when the team faltered. When one has devoted such passion to a team for so many years (especially since it was so often unrewarded) one can expect that the taking away of one’s team will be a bitter pill to swallow, and it was. I stopped watching professional football (except for the yearly Super Bowl). I developed an anger toward K.S. “Bud “ Adams which some may think (and they are entitled to their opinions) is disproportionate to the hurt which he had done me.
Yesterday, I relished in his defeat. The emotion of celebrating the suffering of others is a low point on the scale of human emotions. So low that the English language does not even have a word for it. We use the German word Schadenfreude (Germans capitalize all nouns). Only the degree of suffering which a person gleefully perceives, separates one engaged in Schadenfreude from a person who is a considered sadistic or even psychopathic. If, for instance, I wanted some great harm to come to Mr. K.S. “Bud “ Adams such as, say, a kidnapping by Columbian terrorists followed by the systematic dismembering of his still living body, I would be one sick puppy. I don’t desire that. I wish for a long and happy life for Mr. K.S. “Bud” Adams. Just so that long and happy life does not contain a Super Bowl triumph by his football team. Once he is gone, I wish his team and the people of Tennessee the very best of luck. I hope that they win a dozen Super Bowls. I have nothing against that team or those people.
The bile which I have built up over this issue is unhealthy, there can be no question about that. It would be considered by most people to be beyond petty, perhaps bordering on the psychotic. At least that is what people say out loud. But in their hearts, I know that they understand. Their hearts are as dark as mine. Each of them, and each of you, wish failure of some kind on someone. It may not be an active wish. You may only notice it a few times in your life. Think about it. How would you feel if your best friend won a $100 million lottery. Oh, you’d smile and congratulate them, but you know how you’d feel. When they draw those lottery numbers every week your first thought is, I hope I won. That is followed quickly by a hope that no one else you know won (unless the ticket was purchased with community property).When ascending the mountain of success, no one wants their best friend to already be there to greet them. We all want success for our friends, we just want to be the one to pull them up to the mountain top with us, not vice versa. Although, if I am ever on top of the mountain, and Mr. K.S. “Bud” Adams extends his hand from below…..Well, he might find that my arm is a little short.