Prior to this year’s Super Bowl, it was reported that only 16 percent of the nation was rooting for the New England Patriots to win the game.

I happened to see a friend, Roy Killgore, who has read a few of my columns and he suggested today’s topic.

He then gave me his take as to why and it was not one that I had considered.

He said the reason is because they are winners and extraordinarily successful.

I thanked him and pondered his viewpoint.

It occurred to me that he was right. I started thinking of many past sports dynasties and realized these successful programs were also despised.

There was the 14 years from 1981 to 1994 when the San Francisco 49ers won five Super Bowl titles.

There are the New York Yankees who, outside of the Big Apple, are universally hated because of their 27 World Series wins.

UCLA and John Wooden’s Bruins we’re disliked for having won 10 NCAA championships in twelve years.

Who can forget the Boston Celtics and their record number of NBA titles? If you weren’t from Beantown you generally were against them.

Vince Lombardi’s Packers of the 1960s had very few fans outside of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Now we have Bill Belichick’s Patriots who have amassed an unprecedented string of successes over the past 17 years— eight Super Bowl appearances and five titles, plus a record number of AFC championship games played.

And how do we react?

We don’t like it.

My wife says it is human nature to root against those that do really well.

I’ve come to to think that it is a very sad commentary on human nature. Instead of wishing for the Patriots’ downfall and for Belichick and Tom Brady to "get theirs", we ought to be celebrating their excellence, shake our heads in wonder and awe and appreciation for something that is rarely done.

Enjoy the spectacle because it shows a commitment to excellence (borrowed from the Raiders) unmatched in any sport today.

The truly impressive thing is the length of this performance.

Aside from Tom Brady, most of us have never heard of the other players on the team until the playoffs begin.

Can you fathom that?

Mr. Belichick keeps putting championship caliber teams on the field year after year, using a whole new cast of characters. He should be respected and applauded, not denigrated.

Other programs should try and emulate him and learn from him.

Here on the Central Coast in the 1980s and '90s, Larry Welsh’s Atascadero Greyhounds were the premier football program. Welsh’s teams won five CIFSS titles between 1981 and 1995 – Patriot type numbers.

And when you consider this, it is even more impressive what Atascadero did because, since it’s a high school, they basically had complete roster turnover every two years.

What this demonstrated to me was Larry was a great coach and motivator. But most of us here got all mad.

We should have been congratulating him and learning from him. Rather than knock down others who succeed, we should be trying to lift ourselves up to match those successful programs.

I learned that lesson many years ago from a young woman I taught and coached. She always rejoiced in her friends’ successes even when her own hopes and dreams were put on hold or thwarted because of circumstances beyond her control.

Unfortunately, this attitude permeates into other areas of our society besides sports.

Why can’t we just be happy for those who are successful? Why do we want them torn down to build ourselves up? Why can’t we all just strive to be better?

We should never be rooting for anyone to fail just because we haven’t yet succeeded. Work harder and believe your time will come.

So stop hating on the New England Patriots. Strive to match their greatness.

That is what will make you great, too.

Greg Sarkisian coached high school athletics on the Central Coast for around 30 years. At St. Joseph, Sarkisian's track and field athletes won 24 individual CIF championships under his tutelage. He also taught mathematics for 38 years at the high school level and for 27 years at Allan Hancock College.