I found an article titled “The Schadenfreude Sports Fan” in today’s (June 23) New York Times followed by the lead copy:
“Figuring out which teams to root against is a nuanced and delicate matter.”
Though "root against"seems to mean "smashing down somebody, something," I'm not sure. So I checked on Cambridge, Oxford, and Merriam-Webster online dictionaries. None of them registers “root against” as an idiom, though they register root around (for / through/ out) as the idioms meaning scratch around, or terminating.
I also found many instances of using “root against” in sports related articles, e.g.;
-Figuring out which teams to root against is a nuanced and delicate matter.–New York Times.
-Because you root against the Yankees harder in October than you do the other 11 months.-Sport Illustrated.
-Only mean-spirited people root against Tim Tebow: The hate makes little sports sense- Culturemap Houston.
Google Ngram also shows the trend of continued increase of usage of the words “root against” since 1880 after bottoming out during ca. 1960 -1900.
What does “root against something” mean? Is it only used for sports related context? Isn’t it a "generic" idiom as against "sports speciffic expression"