“Schadenfreude is the death of karma”
-Something I heard somewhere once
I watched the National Championship game last night.
Well, most of it.
I turned it off after they took a touchdown away from Clemson on a weak offensive pass interference call. At that point I saw where the game was headed, and I can’t stomach seeing people from Louisiana happy.
I was pulling for Clemson. This is a relatively new turn of events for me. And no, I am not one of these bandwagoners. I’m not calling myself a fan. I simply wanted them to win. Which is odd because I’ve spent most of my life as a certified Clemson hater.
For no particular reason, other than the fact that my father couldn’t stand them. When you’re young, you like what your dad likes and you hate what he hates. Ergo, the bright orange and the paw never inspired anything in me but contempt.
It made no sense. I grew up 45 minutes away from the school and everyone around me was a Clemson fan. Except for the kids who liked the Gamecocks, but I didn’t even pull for them! I liked the Hokies of Virginia Tech despite the fact I spent little to no time in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. What was my beef with these people? My sister went to Clemson and she’s pretty cool. She married a fellow Clemson alum and season ticket holder. My brother-in-law and his mom went to games together for years! What part of my dark black soul would want those two people to leave a sporting event unhappy? My first girlfriend and her sweet family went to every home game. Adam Knight’s family were Clemson fans. My friend Becca’s parents bleed orange and purple. What was it about me as a kid that didn’t want to pull for my local team? What about me enjoyed seeing everyone around me disappointed?
It all changed when I moved to New York. I still wasn’t pulling for Clemson, but I no longer actively despised them. That hate was now reserved for the Mets and the Yankees, because apparently I don’t like being around neighbors who feel joy. I had also begun to passively pull for the Tigers. Not so much "passively pull” as it was mild indifference. But that was a far cry from searing hate.
Then Clemson got good. Like, insanely good. It’s one thing to root against them for some random game in October, but to see the people I live around and work with and am related to get so close to the mountain top, and then actively wish for them not get there…
Perhaps this is a sign of spiritual growth. Of progress of my soul. But last night and the last few years I have done nothing but wish Clemson well. And while I will never pretend to drink from the cup of sorrow my neighbors are feeling this morning, and I will never claim the championship sun on my face, please know I was pulling for you over those rednecks from the bayou.
And believe me when I say, I feel no schadenfreude for your loss.