Schadenfreude and sports

Something has struck me since the end of the Stanley Cup finals game last night.

If you were cheering for the Blues and all their amazing work with people and players in need, I was right there with you. I was SO done when with their remarkable run from worst in the league to Stanley Cup chance. Many teams can’t do that over a period of years. They did it in five months. We were so happy after the end of the game.

So, here’s the thing that’s been on my mind today. Brad Marchand. More specifically, some people’s obsession with finding satisfaction in his misery.

My friend Greg named it: schadenfreude.

In all honesty, as much I’ve heard the word, I’ve never really understood the meaning. This, of course, turned into a lengthy conversation about human nature, but none of it resolved my feelings.

Am I a fan of Marchand? HELL, no. Not even remotely. I think he’s a despicable player who is continually doing bad things in and for the sport. HOWEVER, it’s really surprised me to see how positively gleeful people were to see him crying after last night’s game.

It’s ugly.

On one hand, I don’t understand people deriving pleasure from another’s anguish. Would you laugh at someone not getting a promotion they’d worked their ass off to get? Would you post a picture of a friend crying after finding out their spouse cheated on them? It’d be weird, right?

On the other hand, in a world where we hardly have enough time and energy and emotional capacity to properly digest the things that are important to us, why devote any amount of effort to someone else’s anguish? Why squander something that’s so precious?

Finally, is there no compassion? When I see people suffering, I immediately imagine how that would feel if I was in their shoes (in this case, skates.) If it doesn’t feel good, I either offer to help or look the other way.

I suspect that the argument would be that he’s a shitty guy who deserves shitty things and I shouldn’t take it so seriously, but I just can’t shake the negativity.

Thankfully, it can’t last long. Raptors fever will take care of that. 🏀


This had me thinking about a post I wrote a couple of years ago just after the Carolina Panthers lost in the Super Bowl and everyone got up Cam Newton’s ass for being bummed about it. Here’s that post.

And here’s a pretty fascinating piece about schadenfreude if you want to read about the science of it all.

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