Like love and rubbing success in the faces of opponents, hating is a tradition as old as time in sports fandom. It's true. Haters are going to hate. College hockey fans know that as well as anyone.
Over the past week, Reddit users have created hate maps by state and province for each of the 4 major pro sports. The maps tell an interesting story on the NHL side. Beating the other two teams in your state and plugging your ears with Stanley Cup rings will make the Kings hated in Caifornia. Canadians are not fans of Massholes.
The Great Plains are apparently stuck in the 90's, and of course there are many theories behind Africa hating Winnipeg yet Georgia letting bygones be bygones.
Hate maps and discussion of rivalries is an off-season activity that is maybe second to Mount Rushmore lists in being brought up on an annual basis. (Often times rivalry talk is also an in-season activity.) Weekends and trophies are made for these. Whether it is an observation, a moment of pride or just the fact we may be petty people, there is something to be said about pointing out when the grass is greener.
Still, seeing the NHL map made me wonder how the college hockey version would look.
Some of the map would be easy to figure out even without anyone in general that has the sample size to do so making one. North Dakota's hate spirit animal would be a Gopher. So would Wisconsin's. Maine would most likely be New Hampshire. Alabama on a hate map is showing the Bemidji State Beavers. No really. (More on this below.) The big rivalries and smaller ones alike are known. From the Battle of Commonwealth Ave in Boston to the Upper Pennisula to sportswriters and the phrase #cawlidgehawkey, each region has one or two that escapes the confines.
Other areas are not so easy. Here are ten thoughts about states I'd be interested in seeing how they would turn out on a college hockey hate map, in no particular order.
1. Who wins in a mythical battle over Alaska?
Several states have two major college hockey programs. Rhode Island has Brown and Providence. New Hampshire has UNH and Dartmouth. Alaska, isolated and on its own, features the best of the two team battles with the dual hatred both Nanooks and Seawolves have for the other. Despite spending over 20 years in separate conferences until last season, both Alaska-Anchorage and Alaska made time to play one another for bragging rights over the Governor's Cup. The battle between the state's two largest cities mirrors the closeness of Pittsburgh-Philadelphia on the NHL map and is one that would be great to play out here.
2. Connecticut's 2013 National Championship Redux
Similar to Alaska, I feel the Nutmeg State would be a great fight between Quinnipiac and Yale fans against the other (sorry both Sacred Heart and Connecticut and a couple teams outstate being wildcards). Two teams, two similarly sized fanbases and attendance and one of the better ECAC rivalries.
3. Would people freak out over Alabama's selection?
One of the outrageous reactions that came from the NHL map was Alabama choosing Vancouver for some unknown reason. Did a bunch of people from Calgary move to Montgomery? Are there Birmingham Bulls fans taking out their 30 year-old anger at Canada not letting them join the NHL? I don't know.
In a college hockey hate map, the choice of the state featuring the only school in SEC country, Alabama-Huntsville, is fairly simple. The Chargers and Bemidji State have had a passionate rivalry on both sides going back to the days when both were Division II powerhouses. That continued through the CHA and now both schools are WCHA members. With over 70 meetings between the two, this is a case where familiarity on the ice breeds contempt that doesn't exist geographically. It's because of that where there could be a similar reaction to the NHL among people who haven't paid attention.
4. The regional nature of the game means there are going to be a lot of weird answers
If Alabama's answer is odd, then so will the hatred throughout the country with so many areas that don't feature a Division 1 men's hockey team. People move, allegiances stay - I met a University of Vermont hockey fan in Oklahoma this summer - and college hockey is small enough where one person can make a difference.
Maybe this sees America draped in the Red/Maroon and Gold hatred alliance of Minnesota, Boston College and Denver. Maybe we see a lot more weird answers like California hating Notre Dame or Idaho for some strange reason expressing disgust at American International. Others could be a mixture such as the case of a major city like Chicago, which was utilized as a hub of four different alumni bases for the outdoor Hockey City Classic in 2013.
My guess is a mix of all three with areas leaning towards their respective regions, but it'd be fun to see.
5. Does Pennsylvania actually hate anyone?
More importantly: should Pennsylvania be forced to hate? Things are pretty chill in PA. Of the three schools that have D1 hockey in the Keystone State, Penn State is entering year 3, Robert Morris just made its first NCAA Tournament and Mercyhurst won Atlantic Hockey's regular season title.
If anything, my guess would be Penn State's size overwhelms this and votes for a Big Ten football rival, however, it's not really earned. That's like going to Philadelphia and saying Sheetz is better than Wawa, even though it absolutely is not, or incorrectly calling Pennsylvania a state (IT'S A COMMONWEALTH!). They are small nuisances. For now, enjoy the love PA. You'll know when that day comes for hockey hate.
6. Massachusetts has BC-BU among rivalries, but how others vote shine a light
Massachusetts contains several big in-state rivalries between UMass-UMass-Lowell, Merrimack-UMass-Lowell and about any permutation of the four Beanpot teams. None may be bigger than Boston College-Boston University, however. Just by themselves BC is a bigger school and has the bigger base. If this hate map had a large enough sample size, MA would bring out some Terrier rage. That's not the case. Boston College has been the dominant team in college hockey over the last 5 years. That is big for bringing the hate. With several other rivalries and fanbases that hate both BC and BU, it could end differently depending on how those other vote.
7. Michigan would be more fun if split up by peninsula
I'm thinking that the overwhelming presence of the University of Michigan takes the Great Lake State (and Ohio too minus some Buckeyes vitriol from Miami, Bowling Green and the rest of the state no one else knows). The Wolverines split along Michigan State and Ohio State and it's easy.
Of course, that could be completely wrong, which is one of the reasons I'd love to see how assumptions turn out (and you know what happens when you assume...) with this happening. At the same time, split Michigan into the Upper and Lower Peninsulas and it seems the UP would be an interesting ball of hate compared with the lower mitten. Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech have no love for the other and Lake Superior State is the wild card in every sense. Even Wisconsin and Michigan loom large.
8. The Gophers decide Minnesota one way or another
Like Michigan, Minnesota has one polarizing team above the rest in the Gophers. The University of Minnesota looms large thanks to TV, exposure and is the #1 source of hatred everywhere in the Upper Midwest (perhaps minus Beltrami County, as BSU beat writer Jack Hittinger points out) with four out five college hockey fanbases in Minnesota agreeing on who is the worst.
Still, the Gophers have the largest fanbase inside Minnesota. Whether it outnumbers the others, including the large contingent of North Dakota and Wisconsin fans that live in the Twin Cities is a good question. If it does then the state likely goes Kelly Green. If not - or if Wisconsin also gets a lot of votes from Minnesota fans - then the Gophers claim another state.
9. Colorado's hate flows through the Gold Pan and college hockey ex-pats
Denver and Colorado College's fight over the Gold Pan is exactly that on an annual basis. The games are heated. A couple years back one ended with Pioneers goalie Juho Olkinuora straight up fighting. With all due respect to Air Force, the third team in Colorado, on the surface hate seems to be a civil war between two of the larger teams in the country.
On the other hand, Denver seems to have a lot of college hockey ex-pats. Any time North Dakota, Minnesota (both of them no strangers to end-of-game shenanigans) or a big name Eastern school play the Pioneers there are a fair share of visiting fans. (Seriously, North Dakota is up there in terms of Boston College and Minnesota when it comes to being hated even if the state hate map does not show it. They travel well.) Is that enough to affect Colorado?
10. Which way does New York go? Because there seems to be several and predicting a winner seems futile.
Union-RPI. Canisius-Niagara. St. Lawrence-Clarkson. Cornell-Harvard. Cornell-BU. RIT-Canisius. Lake Placid hosting the ECAC Tournament-Atlantic City hosting. No large schools or overwhelming fanbases. Outstate school hatred. New York City containing a hodgepodge of alumni throughout New York state and the country.
The options are endless.
Agree? Disagree? Didn't bring up your state? Discuss it in the comments.
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate