Minnesota beat writer Amelia Rayno tries to make Gophers fans feel better about the 0-4 Big Ten start by pointing out that things aren’t that much better in Wisconsin.
She rightly points to high expectations in Madison and the lousy shooting to open conference play, before concluding:
Nonetheless, at this juncture of the Gophers season, a little Schadenfreude never hurts.
She brings up an interesting element of fandom and one that is highly prevalent among Big Ten fan bases.
For the non-German speakers, Schadenfreude is the enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others. It’s present in nearly every walk of life – politics, business, neighborhoods, whatever. But it is perhaps most pronounced in sports.
Elements of some fan bases almost seem to take as much delight in their opponents’ failures as their teams’ successes. This is usually more true among secondary teams in a market or league (think pre-World Series Red Sox or Purdue basketball).
But does Wisconsin’s 1-3 start really make Minnesota’s 0-4 start any more palatable? The Gophers are still in last place and arguably are in a worse position to climb out of that hole. Plus, the Badgers are still on Minnesota’s schedule, so Minnesota boosters should be careful of any overt taunting. (One other thing, ESPN included Wisconsin’s “misaligned timepieces” on its new Bottom 10 feature today.)
Geography, of course, makes the feeling more intense (just see the Northwestern-Illinois squabbles here this week).
Personally, I had a much deeper dislike for Purdue when I lived in Indiana, as the Boilermaker fan celebrations of then-rare Hoosier losses felt galling and obnoxious. Now, I rather like Matt Painter and his teams.
A friend of mine who has long since moved from Indiana, however, doesn’t care if the Hoosiers win any games other than Purdue and Kentucky. They could go 3-30 and he’d be happy if the three came against the Boilermakers and Wildcats.
I’d prefer 30-3, with losses to Kentucky and Purdue (as long as they don’t subsequently meet in the tournament).
I feel no real enmity for any Big Ten team at this point. I have found that I want Big Ten teams to win every nonconference game they play (rising tides and whatnot).
But I do root against them for competitive reasons to benefit the Hoosiers. So, for the record, I will be quietly rooting against these teams for the foreseeable future:
- Michigan State
- Ohio State
This list is subject to change.