Watching yesterday's England-Portugal match, trying desperately to avoid slipping into a coma, I was struck anew by something troubling: my severe, and inexplicable, dislike for Wayne Rooney. In a match where I had no loyalties, in a sport where I have no loyalties, it's a bit strange.
I dislike plenty of players in all sports, but I always have (in my mind) a good reason -- whether it be a tendency to cheap-shot, too much hype, or a tendency to say amazingly stupid shit. I don't know if any of this applies to Rooney. His talent seems to be unquestionable, and nothing about him suggests laziness. I know the overrated aspect applies to England teammate Beckham, who is the one I really should hate, as he represents everything I despise -- but he just elicits eye-rolls, whereas I took inordinate delight in seeing Wayner sent off yesterday.
Here's the thing: it's not Rooney's fault. It reveals something pretty horrible about me. I dislike Rooney because he looks like someone I'd dislike in real life.
Now, I know the folly of making assumptions. I've probably had the wrong first impression of most of my friends. People tend to assume I'm Brad Pitt upon first meeting me. So making judgments on Rooney based on what I see on the TV ("telly," for my British friends) isn't justified.
But, I can't help it. He looks -- in my eyes -- stupid and thuggish. Somehow his whining to the refs seemed more petulant than the other players. I see Rooney and I see the drunken, glassy-eyed oaf who spills his beer on you and then thinks you owe him one. So it's intellectual and class snobbery on my part -- the kind of thing I like to think I'm above. And I don't know why poor Wayne is singled out. It's not like I have any illusions that the players I like are sitting around contemplating Kierkegaard (though we'll see -- maybe someday Tomáš Klouček and I will end up discussing the works of Milan Kundera).
Of course, it could also just be that Rooney's not as smart as me, not as good-looking, but he'll still have more money and girls than I could ever contemplate.