Be a happy and honest sports fan with this one simple trick: understand that moral values have nothing to do with on-field performance. That’s a foundational principle of this website, as far as I can tell, but abiding by it will stop you from making mistakes that have nothing to do with sports. It can remind you not to side with law enforcement in a drug panic, or cover for your beloved alma mater’s teams when they cover up endemic sexual abuse, and it will definitely keep you from retconning your own values onto your favorite teams when they play well.
The idea of a “progressive” case for any sports team, especially one you like, is fool’s gold. They play sports. Seeing Tom Brady’s hopes and dreams crushed is incredibly satisfying; it is not “the beginning of the end of the darkness.” North Korea will have athletes at the Olympics this week—root for them if you like.
I don’t root for the Philadelphia Eagles because they’re righteous. Some of my favorite athletes ever include Allen Iverson, who was an abusive alcoholic; Michael Vick, who fought and killed dogs; and Donovan McNabb, who appears to be a serial drunk driver and sexual harasser. I don’t agonize over that at all, because I use that one simple trick. Floyd Mayweather is not a coward in the boxing ring; rooting for Sam Hinkie is not an expression or extension of leftist politics. Moral values have nothing to do with on-field performance; my values have nothing to do with the teams and athletes and dumb sports things I care about.
So I know it’s true that if my parents’ families were from Boston and not Philadelphia, I’d be a raving Patriots fan; that both Carson Wentz and Nick Foles almost definitely voted for Donald Trump; that Malcolm Jenkins signed off on having his already meager protest silenced in exchange for a meager donation to a fake charity; that Jeffrey Lurie tried to buy the Patriots but his rich uncle wouldn’t lend him enough money, and that he only bought the Eagles when his rich mother lent him enough money.
But it’s also true that Chris Long donated his entire regular-season salary to worthy charities; that Jenkins really is a serious and skilled activist; that Wentz and Foles appear to be easygoing leaders and beloved teammates; that while the rest of the NFL owners were complaining about the “inmates running the prison” or conspiring with pizza magnates to get the commissioner fired for not forcing players to stand for the national anthem, Lurie stood by his protesting players and admonished his fellow owners for being cowardly and short-sighted. It is also true that the Patriots’ quarterback, coach, and owner are all personal friends of the sour old white supremacist who is currently president of the United States and stood by him when no one would have blamed them for running away.
All of the aforementioned could be different—the entire situation could be completely flipped—and this Super Bowl win wouldn’t be any less satisfying. But all of it is the case, and it absolutely makes this Super Bowl more satisfying. Also, Nick Foles allegedly has an enormous penis. Performance is unrelated to morality.