Thursday, October 21, 2004

Yeah team!

This is not about the St. Aug Falcon's winning their homecoming game.
This is not about the impending peril of a Redsox-Astros world series... think about it.

This is about politics. I have a theory for why for most partizans the debates are little more than an opportunity to exercise their clapping hands. In fact is seems that for most people, the arguments, the issues, the characters are not important.

When you go to your team's sporting event, does your team's performance really matter?
Of course, you want to win. I mean you want them to win. Slip is intentional.

As a person who cares little or nothing about sports, i lthink I can give some objective observations about sporting events.

1. Referee errors are an afront to humanity, if they rule against 'your team'.
2. Referee errors are an understandable slip (or not even errors) if they rule against 'your team.'
Compare this to the reactions people have to little things in politcs.
3. If your team makes a big mistake (fumble, error, etc..) you groan and redouble your applause.
Compare this to the reactions people have to debate miscues.
4. If the other team does something spectacular, or really cool, it just angers you. You might grudgingly admit to the prowess of 'your' opponent, but that is as far as it can go.
5. The reason a team is "your" team is often just geographic proximity, it was yoru parent's team, your school's team, the people around you like them etc.. It rarely is based on the merits of the team. And when it is, it is usually just because they (a) win a lot, or (b) have come from behind, and have gotten a lot media attention for that.
6. Some teams you hate, simply because they are the rivals of your team.
7. Very little will get you to change teams. Moving to a new area, finding yourself among people who don't like them, or maybe some sort of scandel involving something personally offense (stadium politics, drugs, sex, etc..) And even then, you tend to continue to support the team, and see some as villains who've taken over.
8. There is little wrong your side can do. If they are accused of drug use, rape, violence, they are being targetted by jealous opponents, if they commit nasty fouls, they are being aggressive, Anyway, they ought to be accorded greater leeway than you would allow your own children.
9. If someone doesn't have a favorite, (like me) he is likley to root for the underdog, or the team with the best uniforms, or the team that does something impressive early on in a game. While we'd like to think we have good reasons for our choices, they are probably less than rational.
10. We tend to exaggerate the importance of our teams losses and victories. In realty things remain pretty much the same. The games are just like the ones last season. A new star will show up to replace the old one. The team that is winning this season might start losing next one.

Hmmmm. This doesn't make me feel better about politics.


At 10:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

right on, steve-o!

i have long critiqued what i call us-versus-themism. and see spectator sports (and many of the dynamics you describe so aptly) as an inculcation device for nationalistic militarism. as soon as "we" go to war, you're either for us or against us (look at all the tv anchors and... whatever it is on the job-description title of the peeps working at fox news... surely ain't jorunalism: when it comes to war, you've got to support the president. "this is general dan rather reporting" <-actual quote, i shit you not.).

the point of such blue vs red conditioning is to invest a populace--that might otherwise be critiquing and actively opposing the power elite's war machine--in a reactive discourse not around a war or conflict, but instead around the "brand loyalty" of the individual relative to the "sides" of the conflict.

sounds perhaps a little conspiracy-theorist perhaps, but then i don't see much evidence against the hypothesis that state governments exist foremost to coordinate military support of property interests (in our own country, that'd be corporate and private property) per anarchist and neo-Marxist perspectives. indeed, if government policy in the u.s. is in fact guided by militarily enforced porporate colonism, the dynamcis you describe serve admirably to perpetuate it: it becomes more important to "support the troops" "don't let the terrorists win" "defeat the bad guys" (how many times in the past year have we read the testimony of disillusioned soldiers in and returning from iraq claiming they "thought we were the good guys" only to find the truth is not so simple?)

then there's the whole domestic violence correlate on spectator sport "big game" days... feh...


At 3:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

when I was exposed to fox in the phoenix airport, the weather people were called "foxcasters". weird.
ps I never understood sports.

At 6:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and another thing!

the "yay team!" thing reminds also of the belief and/or strategy of making the world better by making everyone believe and value things in exactly the same way. the rhetorically couched, and christian-ideologue situated question from the john birch society resolutions is a perfect example: "If everybody else on earth should think and act as I do, would this become in fact a better world?"

and, by extension, yay team! conjures up utopian orientation: if everyone was on our team... if everyone was republican... if everyone would just*... the problem with utopianism being the problem of erasure: actual voices, and actual people actually dissapear (usually, though not always, without detailing of course the bloodbath required to produce the utopia). in yay team! terms this relates what you describe as the inability to critically evaluate the performance of other teams' play (as opposed to the knee-jerk they cheated, the umpire favors them, etc.).

yay team! is part of an ideology prefering to dispense with development, evolution and critique (dialectics, say), and put an un-yeilding pro forma in its place.


* this goes for folks froma wide range of beliefs from "if only everyone wouyld just accept jesus as his own personal savior" to "if only everyone would just forget about god" to "if only everyone would just behave as a perfect neo-classical economic actor"

At 10:15 PM, Blogger kfawell said...

Let's assume things are the way Steve has described how many people are (and I think he is pretty much accurate enough). It seems there are a few ways to view the problem.

First, perhaps many people have not really ever spent much time thinking about sport, politics, nationalism, etc. beyond how others act. They learn how to be a fan by watching others, and that is that. There is not or little genuine questioning about why. Of course, once learned, it is hard to unlearn, and for many people either not even a thing that will occur to them, or as Steve points out, they irrationally defend their side. In any case, it is really just a matter of ignorance. Perhaps if they would have been better educated, it would have been different.

Another way is that without training either on how to be a typical fan or how to be rational, most people end up this way. It is built in. It would seem like given that so many people are this way, but not everyone is. I can tell you that I was this way. I started watching football when I was young, maybe 10-years old. I started watching on my own as no one else did in the house. And I became much like Steve described. It does not seem to me that I learned how to be the way I was by example. (As I got older, into my 20's, I started to slowly change. It was part of a larger change regarding my views. I began to examine them, and when I saw problems, I began to change my mind. Sports now mean much, much less to me.)

Finally, perhaps many people are just not too good at self examination. The desire to be right, the good guy, dominates, and like a typical dictator, other views are suppressed, in this case, thoughts that maybe they are being irrational about their team.

In all these cases, the world has move along. It is distressing to think that many problems in history are due to this kind of problem. Nevertheless, civilization progresses ever so slowly. Overall, I am hopeful.


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