The 5 Powers of a Good Enemy – Red Sox Fans Hate the Yankees

Red Sox fans are all alike. They hate the Yankees. You might respect the talent of the Yankees, but a Red Sox fan knows the Yankees buy championships.

“… studies show that rabid sports fans have higher self-esteem and are less depressed, less alienated and less lonely.” (Seattle Times)

Fans have something to love and something to hate. Let’s talk about hate.

The 5 powers of a common enemy:

#1. Unity:

Common enemies unify teams.

The thing you’re fighting for helps you identify what you’re fighting against. If you’re for the Red Sox, you’re against the Yankees.

#2. Control:

Common problems give you something to control. If the enemy is inefficiency, you quickly identify things within your power to control.

Feeling powerful increases energy and intensifies resolve.

Feeling powerless drains resolve. Why try if you can’t change anything?

#3. Loyalty and support:

It’s embarrassing that the Red Sox stole signs, but true fans stick with the team when they screw up.

A true fan cheers for the Red Sox even when the Yankees are winning. Common problems provide opportunity to support each other when the score is upside down.

Common problems accentuate the advantage of combined strengths.

#4. Evaluation:

A common enemy gives us a way to evaluate each other. A Red Sox fan that likes the Yankees can’t be a member of the inner circle.

The more we hate the same thing, the better we feel about each other.

#5. Identity:

Identity impacts behavior. Being a true fan is who you are, not something you do. The craziness of fandom demonstrates the power of identity.

Fans wear odd cloths and do strange things like spin towels. Fans make bizarre noises in unison, the more unique, the better.

The most important question you ask is, “What are we fighting for?” But …

You know what to fight against after you declare what you’re fighting for.

How might leaders bring teams together around a common enemy?

What enemy are you fighting against?

Bonus material:

Nothing Brings a Team Together Like a Common Enemy (Forbes)

Friendship’s Dark Side: We Need a Common Enemy (NY Times)