the home team

here’s something i don’t get — and have never understood to be perfectly honest with you: why are, for instance, the seattle seahawks and the denver broncos called the seattle seahawks and the denver broncos when NONE of the players are from either seattle or denver?

i know none of them are, because i checked the players’ bios on wikipedia [these are the “active” players on the teams’ rosters]. here’s where they were all born/raised:

seattle seahawks:
Tarvaris Jackson – Montgomery, AL
Clinton McDonald – Jacksonville, AR
Zach Miller – Tempe, AZ
Richard Sherman – Compton, CA
Heath Farwell – Fontana, CA
Benson Mayowa – Inglewood, CA
Derrick Coleman – West Los Angeles, CA
Caylin Hauptmann – Los Angeles, CA
Brandon Mebane – Los Angeles, CA
Walter Thurmond III – Los Angeles, CA
Bobby Wagner – Los Angeles, CA
Marshawn Lynch – Oakland, CA
Robert Turbin – Oakland, CA
DeShawn Shead – Palmdale, CA
Paul McQuistan – San Diego, CA
Malcolm Smith – Woodland Hills, CA
Doug Baldwin – Gulf Breeze, FL
Cliff Avril – Jacksonville, FL
Ricardo Lockette – Albany, GA
Bruce Irvin – Atlanta, GA
James Carpenter – Augusta, GA
Chris Clemons – Griffin, GA
Max Unger – Kailua-Kona, HI
Michael Bennett – Avondale, LA
Lemuel Jeanpierre – Marrero, LA
Breno Giacomini – Cambridge, MA
Steven Hauschka – Needham, MA
Kellen Davis – Adrian, MI
J.R. Sweezy – Mooresville, NC
Russell Wilson – Cincinnati, OH (Richmond, VA)
Alvin Bailey – Broken Arrow, OK
Michael Bowie – Tulsa, OK
Luke Wilson – LaSalle, Ontario
Jordan Hill – Harrisburg, PA
Jon Ryan – Regina, Saskatchewan
O’Brien Schofield – Camden, SC
Tony McDaniel – Hartsville, SC
Byron Maxwell – North Charleston, SC
Golden Tate – Hendersonville, TN
K.J. Wright – Memphis, TN
Christine Michael – Beaumont, TX
Clint Gresham – Corpus Christi, TX
Mike Morgan – Dallas, TX
Russell Okung – Fort Bend, TX
Red Bryant – Jasper, TX
Earl Thomas – Orange, TX
Jeremy Lane – Tyler, TX
Percy Harvin – Chesapeake, VA
Kam Chancellor – Norfolk, VA
Michael Robinson – Richmond, VA
Bryan Walters – Bothell, WA
Jermaine Kearse – Lakewood, WA
Chris Maragos – Racine, WI

denver broncos:
Chris Kuper – Anchorage, AL
Duke Ihenacho – Carson, CA
Sione Fue – Lodi, CA
Ronnie Hillman – Long Beach, CA
Winston Justice – Long Beach, CA
Malik Jackson – Los Angeles, CA
Omar Bolden – Ontario, CA
Aaron Brewer – Orange, CA
Julius Thomas – Stockton, CA
Virgil Green – Tulare, CA
C.J. Anderson – Vallejo, CA
Mitch Unrein – Eaton, CO
Terrance Knighton – Hartford, CT
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – Bradenton, FL
Tony Carter – Jacksonville, FL
Kayvon Webster – Miami, FL
Andre Caldwell – Tampa, FL
Champ Bailey – Folkston, GA
Wesley Woodyard – LaGrange, GA
Demaryius Thomas – Montrose, GA
Jeremy Mincey – Statesboro, GA
Joel Dreessen – Ida Grove, IA
Brock Osweiler – Coeur d’Alene, ID
Marquice Cole – Hazel Crest, IL
Orlando Franklin – Kingston, Jamaica
Montee Ball – McPherson, KS
Jacob Tamme – Lexington, KY
David Bruton – Winchester, KY
Chris Clark – New Orleans, LA
Peyton Manning – New Orleans, LA
Trindon Holliday – Zachary, LA
Eric Decker – Cold Spring, MN
Sylvester Williams – Jefferson City, MO
Robert Ayers – Jersey City, NJ
Nate Irving – Newark, NJ
Mike Adams – Paterson, NJ
Knowshon Moreno – Bronx, NY
Zac Dysert – Ada, OH
Matt Prater – Mayfield Heights, OH
Danny Trevathan – Youngstown, OH
Steve Vallos – Youngstown, OH
Wes Welker – Oklahoma City, OK
Steven Johnson – Media, PA
Shaun Phillips – Philadelphia, PA
Brandon Marshall – Pittsburgh, PA
Britton Colquitt – Knoxville, TN
Quentin Jammer – Angleton, TX
Louis Vasquez – Corsicana, TX
Manny Ramierz – Houston, TX
Michael Huff – Irving, TX
Paris Lenon – Lynchburg, VA
Vinston Painter – Norfolk, VA
Zane Beadles – Casper, WY

see? no one from either seattle or denver. the only guy who might arguably be described as being from seattle — and he plays for seattle, too — is bryan walters who is from bothell, wa, which, wikipedia tells me, is in the seattle metropolitan region. if i were feeling generous, i’d count him as being from seattle. maybe i will. i’ll think about it. (~_^)

again, i have to admit that i just don’t get it. must be my ass-burgers. WHY are the teams named for the cities even though (almost) none of the players are from those cities? i say just get it over with and call the teams the “microsoft seahawks” or the “regent drilling broncos.” or even just the red and blue teams. either of those options would be more honest, afaics.

also, more interestingly (to me anyway), is WHY do people from seattle and denver identify with these players with whom they share no connection — except for the fact that they transfer some of their wealth over to the players (via the owners who, of course, keep a lion’s share of that wealth)? i understand that it has to do with innate feelings of “tribalism” — wanting to belong to and identify with a group — but, well, i guess i have a hard time comprehending the appeal of artificial groups like this.

what DOES make sense to me (as far as any sports game could) are sporting events built around real groups — groups of people that have some sort of ties to one another:

– ashbourne’s royal shrovetide football match where the game is between the town’s “up’ards” and “down’ards,” i.e. individuals actually born in the town to the north or the south of the local river.

kabaddi in india and pakistan which is — or was traditionally, anyway — played between “the young males of the rival clans or villages fighting it out in sport” [pg. 165].

– i think that buzkashi, too, was traditionally played by rival clans/tribes, but don’t quote me on that because i can’t recall where i read that. it might not be the case anymore either. (btw, see this cool article!: Buzkashi: Experiencing the World’s Deadliest Sport – h/t t.greer!)

the professionalism rot set in early in american football. according to wikipedia, one of the first american football teams — the latrobe athletic association established in 1895 — was originally played by local amateurs from latrobe, pennsylvania:

“In 1895 the local Latrobe YMCA organized a local football team and announce that the team play a formal schedule. With the decision, Russell Aukerman, an instructor at the club and a former Gettysburg College halfback, was named as a player-coach. Meanwhile, David Berry, an editor-publisher of a local newspaper, the Latrobe Clipper, was chosen as the team’s manager. Harry Ryan, a former tackle from West Virginia University, was then elected as the team’s captain. The then team began to conduct daily practices in early August. Since many of the players held jobs unrelated to football, those men working different shifts were accommodated with evening drills when they could not attend regular sessions in the afternoon. Their practices were held on a vacant Pennsylvania Railroad lot at the corner of Depot and Alexandria Streets, which was lit at night by a street light.”

two years later, the entire team was made up of professional paid football players who hailed from all over the country. *sigh*

so, what do i know? nuthin’ apparently. guess the only thing i can say is: go bears?! (~_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. da bears!)

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31 Comments

  1. It’s not your ass-hamburgers. It’s that people are stupid and easily fooled by the illusion of the team being the “home team”. Do you ever hear them talk about how “our team” / “my team” won? Hey sparky, it’s not “your team” unless you’re the owner.

    But… but… muh feels! muh home team! *DERP* You mean if I wear the jersey I’m not part of muh team?

    Also, Star Wars football: http://images.onset.freedom.com/ocvarsity/blogs/ocvarsity.freedomblogging.com/Star_Wars_football.jpg

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  2. You are vocalizing thoughts that I had in my head for some time, but I guess didn’t have as much care for it to research it here as you have. So thanks for that!

    As for the answer, I don’t know.

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  3. @polynices – “I’m with you on the confusion….”

    @jayman – “As for the answer, I don’t know.”

    oh, good! it’s not just me (and the d.h.). (^_^)

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  4. Interesting: Not only are people who are part of an outbred culture less tribal, but they are also more susceptible to this sort of “counterfeit tribalism”. That is, even when they DO behave in a “tribal” fashion, said tribal behavior is misdirected.

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  5. At least those players you listed are born in the same country. A significant percentage of British Premier League footballers aren’t even born here..

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  6. @chris – “A significant percentage of British Premier League footballers aren’t even born here.”

    =/

    btw, chris, did you happen to see all the hla-related stuff in the recent news related to the neanderthal dna we modern humans inherited? (sorry for the DM link!):

    Revenge of the Neanderthals: ‘Legacy’ genes from ancient humans may be to blame for modern killer diseases such as cancer and diabetes

    ‘Studies have shown we could have taken part of our HLA system, which effects our white blood cells, from them.

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  7. In Australia, the rugby league professionals play for any-old-club, but there is also a State of Origin game, Queensland vs NSW. You chaps could have a lot of those with 50 state sides to organise. You’d need 49 matches to find the winner.

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  8. Where to start there with that one? :)

    As I understand it the system in the USA operates differently to other countries, whereby franchises are established and can move cities, not to mention the draft system to allocate players, so perhaps the concept of loyalty does seem a bit more puzzling to the non-initiated over there. It’s very much geared towards success and profit. Here in Scotland, as with many European countries, clubs did not start off as franchises or creations, they were set up as local clubs (the concept of team and club is also important), and identified through a number of factors; geographical, religious, communities, industries and so forth. They don’t always name themselves after a place, but it’s considered very controversial to change a name or try to move location. Some still hold on to their original traditions, such as Queen’s Park; they were once the most successful club in the country, but chose to retain their amateur status rather than turn professional, meaning they now languish in the fourth tier of the league system. The production of players is different too, whereby most footballers are brought through the ranks at clubs within a certain distance of themselves, with a sizeable enough amount getting to have a chance to make it at their hometown club, particularly in smaller communities that don’t have many clubs. (Though this is not necessarily always the case in the modern era, particularly with increased options, clubs who can pay for parents to move to that area with their children, and freedom of movement in the EU)

    But the concept of why people are still attached to these clubs in the modern day, where at times vast sums of money are involved and teams can feature players from numerous different countries…there are still some possible answers. The first one is tradition. Supporting a team isn’t just about geography or success, it is often handed down from parent and grandparent to children. As a personal example, both my father and grandfather supported the same team as me, I was brought up supporting the team, and most of the people around me were following the same team. Even as the realities on the pitch change, the community and traditions of the support can remain constant, or at least close to the original ideas. Even those who emigrate retain an attachment to the team, so you can go from Glasgow to Japan, Argentina, South Africa or Kazakhstan and there are supporters clubs set up for ‘my’ team in all of them. These kind of networks thus tend to reinforce the identity. Even when club owners want to make a profit, fans look past this during periods of success. Though considering how rarely clubs make any kind of meaningful profit, club owners tend to have an emotional investment to a team. It’s mostly elite clubs who attract profit-driven or prestige-driven owners.

    However maybe that’s not fully answering your question. If the players are from a wide range of places, and have no attachment to the team or the area, how can fans support them? It does have an impact, though not as much. Fans are usually more excited or appreciative of hometown players, or lifelong supporters of the clubs who can prove their affinity, and most teams will try to have someone in the side who fits that description, with many of them being captain if they’re also pretty good. I don’t think you have that designation in US sports, but every team has a captain here. The biggest clubs in the world, whether from Spain, Germany or wherever all have a strong native influence through the spine of the team. For those who don’t come from the area then it usually comes down to other factors; some players end up growing a bond with the club and are then considered part of the family, others may not find a bond but are still highly successful on the park and are appreciated for it, whilst others either don’t succeed or aren’t perceived to be giving full commitment and usually don’t last beyond their contract.

    Success does come into the consideration of fans, so victory can sometimes be seen as more important than finding 11 local players, though of course doing it with the latter is valued more. Perhaps instead of looking at it only through blood or tribalism, religion might well be a suitable comparison. For many people the process of supporting the team has many rituals, whether wearing the colours of the team, going to the stadium and taking part in singing and collective celebration, or going to a meeting place to watch it on TV. The most important players may at times seem to be worshipped, and there are certain traditions understood and revered by the supporters. People who don’t live in the area may travel long distances to attend home games, seeing it as some sort of pilgrimage. Attending your first ever match is considered a rite of passage. The legends and mythology from players and result long gone by are amost considered as scripture and folklore. On the rare occasion a player dies on the pitch, they are eulogised and are almost considered as saints of the club.

    It may also be worth considering the role of certain sports clubs throughout the history of certain countries. Some are associated as a gathering point for dissent and are perceived as representing the common man in a struggle against the state. Most socialist countries set up teams that were attached to the military, the police forces, the railway workers, the aviation industry etc, and the name Spartak (Spartacus) in Eastern Europe tends to be associated with the aforementioned resistance mentality. Some teams in Scotland are associated with certain religious and immigrant groups, other clubs in varying countries become the focal point for a minority group who feel resistance towards the larger country they are part of. Thus the players on the park, whilst still possibly local, are secondary to the message of the collective gathering.

    And before I write all night, the concept of international sports also has far more meaning outside the USA, which may fill in for those who don’t have that hometown attachment with their club. US sports tend to be very undeveloped in other countries, such as American football, and sports such as ice-hockey, basketball and baseball are only seriously played by a smaller amount of countries, and as such the international tournaments are rarely seen as prestigious (ice-hockey the exception). Whereas for say football, it’s worldwide, and the passion seen at international matches can be extremely high. Certain European countries can’t be drawn against each other due to the animosity found between them, and Israel plays in European competitions due to Asian/Middle Eastern teams refusing to play them. Although some anomalies can be found in terms of selection, particularly where passports are given to players to make them eligible, the vast majority are either born in the country, grew up their for most of their lives, or are the children of expats and are biologically connected to the country. This gives the tribal connection, though funnily enough club rivalries can mean when a national team is struggling, criticism can be divided based on which club they belong to.

    Oh and there’s no British Premier League as someone above alluded to, each UK country has its own football league and there’s a lot of pride and passion invested in retaining this structure. It’s mostly in individual-based sports, such as tennis or golf, where players are listed as representing GB. Underdeveloped sports also lean towards UK leagues due to the lack of competition to make solely national leagues. Except in the Commonwealth Games though, which of course is split amongst the individual countries…

    Did I get around to answering your question there? ;)

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  9. One reason is that having a team of natives doesn’t work at the highest levels. You end up with tiresome rules, and unethical ways to evade the rules. You need an exception for the guy born in Toronto but who lives in Montreal, so that he can play hockey for Montreal. But then how long must he be a resident? And is he eligible to play for either the Leafs or the Canadiens while another athlete is only eligible for one team?

    What happened historically is, if the rule is two years residency the athlete might move and wait two years, or a scout might change his legal address without him actually moving, or backdate a move.

    Another reason is large cities would almost always win, because a professional athlete is a one in ten thousand kind of guy. A hockey-mad city with a population of two million would crush any team raised from a city of two hundred thousand.

    A large proportion of fans are dumb and tribal, but true aficionados want to see the game played at the highest level, which means inevitably a draft.

    There is something else. Team games are about individuals. Effort by the coaches goes into strategy and tactics, but increased effort yields diminishing returns. Board games are far more complex. It wouldn’t be hard to invent team sports as complex as chess or go or bridge, but you’d lose the essence of what the sport is about: the individual’s genetic worth is on display. Not just faster, higher, stronger as in individual sports, but smarter: as in the ability to make the right decision when there are no do-overs, the ability to co-operate in a team effort, and to keep cool under pressure.

    I know a girl who goes to see the Montreal Canadiens play all the time. She hoots and hollers and has a high old time, but I am not sure she knows the rules of ice hockey. She’s having fun and rooting for the home team, but she is also watching a bunch of select, one-in-ten-thousand young men, mostly in their 20s, battle it out on the ice. I think she goes for the same reason that I always stop channel flicking when there is a women’s volleyball match in progress.

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  10. Two reasons why people wouldn’t have evolved defenses against false “home teams”.

    1) Bigger is better. People who join the winning team are winners. They survive and take the land and women of those who quibble over authenticity.

    2) Let’s say that it is the stoneage and you are man watching two groups of men fighting. Is either team authentic enough that you will join it? Reality check: one of the team is composed of your kin and the other is intent on killing you, a rival male. False “home teams” didn’t really exist in prehistoric times. In situations where they did (maybe you were adopted somehow), see reason 1.

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  11. Like others have said, people are easily fooled and outbred people are probably prone to “counterfeit tribalism.” You only have to look at liberals who are tribal in their tolerance and inclusiveness. I just love how well cultural pacifist Jon Stewart illustrated this,

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-september-5-2012/hope-and-change-2—the-party-of-inclusion

    I looked a bit at the soccer teams in Saudi Arabia and they have less than 10 percent foreign players, many of which have Arab names and may be people who have Saudi origin. Even if they’re not they most likely are Muslim, which no doubt helps people to identify with their team.

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  12. Also, I get the feeling that young people are less into sports which could be due to this internationalization, but also all the other stuff that is available now, like MMORPGs or dressing up like a furry animals and what not. In a sports event only one guy gets to be a furry : (

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  13. This is the Circuses part of ‘Bread and Circuses’. It doesn’t have to make sense it only has to provide a spectacle. The symbolism is important too, having a totem animal/symbol on the team’s logo gives people a focus. Like the field banners of old. When you look at the rhetoric you can also see how primal it is: ‘We’re the Seahawk’s nation’, etc. Also, whenever a player does end up playing for the team of his region, the people always take notice, stories are written, letters to the editor come in, comments are made.

    ~S

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  14. @ hbd chick – “did you happen to see all the hla-related stuff in the recent news related to the neanderthal dna we modern humans inherited? ”

    Ah thanks for that!

    I think John Hawks wrote a while back that some of the HLA alleles which were touted as being possibly of Neanderthal or Denisovan origin in modern humans, are actually found among present-day sub-Saharan African populations to varying degrees. I had already noticed this too.

    From my own observations:

    In type I diabetes the most significant HLA allele which appears to be associated with the disease is HLA class I allele B*57:01 [http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/59/11/2972.full]
    However, B*57:01 is found at 3.1% in Uganda Kampala [n=161].

    In breast cancer, the most significant HLA class I allele associated with the disease appears to be B*55:01.
    However B*55:01 is found at 1.2% in Uganda Kampala.

    So are these from Neanderthals? Or some other archaic admixture event?

    Or possible Eurasian admixture via Sudan? Or British colonialists? Kenya has neither of these alleles however.

    HLA class I allele A*11:01 was supposed to be a potential candidate for a Denisovan allele.

    However, it turns up, once again, in Uganda Kampala, at 4.3%.

    HLA C*07:02 in Eurasians was claimed by several papers and articles to be derived from Neanderthals.
    However, African frequencies are: Cameroon Bamileke [n=77] 7.1%; Cameroon Beti [n=174] 6.6%; Uganda Kampala [n=161] 6.1%; Mali Bandiagara [n=138] 4.7%; Zimbabwe Harare Shona [n=230] 4.6%; Kenya [n=144] 4.4%; Ghana Ga-Adangbe [n=131] 4.2%; Kenya Luo [n=265] 3.8%; etc. etc.

    One problem is that Africa is still undersampled relative to Europe, Asia, and the Americas, but fortunately that is starting to change.

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  15. When it comes to sports some people lose all their sense. I am reminded of the Roman chariot races, with the Reds, Whites, Greens, and Blues. Even today, I suspect our government to get around to trying to manipulate the masses with sports. Orwell saw through that trick in “1984.”

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  16. as already discussed, the english premeire league is like that times a million. foreign players and foreign owners! And *foreign* as in truly very very different. the qatari sovereign wealth fund paying people from Mali to play for “paris”

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  17. You have two good data points. However, you’re mixing up “is” and “ought” in interpreting them. You’ve identified the inputs that can result in a form of ingroup identification in a particular species (ours). But then, paradoxically, you insist such behavior “shouldn’t” occur, apparently because you don’t consider it rational (as if we were a rational species.) It’s like observing that anteaters eat ants, and then insisting that they shouldn’t do that, because it’s irrational.

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  18. CharlesK – we call those young women “pink hats” in New England because they buy team logo clothing in that color. They can name cute players but not their position, can’t remember the score, etc. They drink a lot.

    To the main topic. I mostly agree with the notion that this is hard-wired tribalism expressed in another fashion, and that family or cultural issues can set the mold. I can’t understand why folks are speaking disdainfully about that, as if they don’t have similar tribal loyalties in their own psyches. Oh, you don’t think you have any of those, just because it’s not something frightfully common like a sport or flag? How quaint.

    The identification flows the other way, I think. One roots for the team as an expression of solidarity with the region or culture. It’s a way of showing your loyalty to the larger team. Nicholas Wade, in his “Before The Dawn,” reported the theory that religion developed to identify who was willing to sacrifice and endure for the tribe. Something similar here. There are endless subtleties, as people change locations, and cities have multiple teams, each with a slightly different appeal.

    Example: My son was raised in NH but now lives in Houston. He retains Boston teams as his main rooting interest to show his deepest loyalty to that home culture, but follows the Houston baseball and basketball teams closely as well. In fact, he knows much more about them than most others, to show his bona fides. But he follows Texas football, professional and college, much more mildly, because they are quite fanatic there and he wishes to express that he does not quite buy in to that degree.

    EPL teams are regional, but they are also class-identified, and following them is not just some simplistic hope-my-tribe’s-totems-eat-yours battle identification, but a deeper tribalism of “these are our foods, this is our territory, this is our culture, and this is our team, even when they lose.”

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  19. @helian – “But then, paradoxically, you insist such behavior ‘shouldn’t’ occur, apparently because you don’t consider it rational (as if we were a rational species.) It’s like observing that anteaters eat ants, and then insisting that they shouldn’t do that, because it’s irrational.”

    no, i’m not saying it shouldn’t occur — i’m just saying that i have a hard time fathoming it, that’s all. i realize that this is just a natural phenomenon and that it’s some sort of expression of “tribalism” — i, personally, just find it odd. they can all carry on doing it (although i rather wish they’d stop…).

    otoh, when i was around age two, i was discovered sitting on the sidewalk nibbling on ants that happened to be passing by in an ant train, so perhaps i actually find the anteaters more logical than many humans. (~_^)

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  20. What I find most interesting is that you (and quite a lot of the commentators) feel like cheering for a sports team representing your location is less rational than cheering for a sports team composed of folks from a similar population.

    Us and Them may be more plastic than we sometimes assume.

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  21. @t.greer – “Us and Them may be more plastic than we sometimes assume.”

    yes. and i did acknowledge that in the post in my link to staffan’s post on “tribalism.” people want to belong to a group — i get that (well, i get that on a theoretical level — not something that comes very instinctively to me, personally).

    i didn’t only mean that i think it makes more sense for people to cheer for a team comprised of individuals from a similar population. like i said, i could understand the whole professional sports team thing more if the players actually came from the cities in question — they wouldn’t all have to be from the same population, though — they could be a mix of black and white and hispanic and whatever. just, to me, it would make more sense to identify with a bunch of guys who at least grew up in my hometown — and would really be representing my hometown then!

    how does a team made up of guys from everywhere else except denver represent denver? i really don’t get it. (but, then, i am odd — i do know that. (~_^) but it’s often the outsider who can notice things.)

    the army-navy game makes more sense to me, for instance, since the players truly represent the army and navy since they’re in the army and the navy!

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  22. @stakhanovite – “Did I get around to answering your question there? ;)”

    thanks! (^_^) but, no, i still don’t get it. (~_^)

    why…why, why, why…is manchester united called manchester united when (i’m guessing) few or none of the players are from manchester?! how is manchester “united” then? no one (or very few) people from manchester have been united together — to represent the people from manchester — on that football team!

    just call it the red team, already — and newscastle the stripy team — and get it over with. (~_^)

    seriously. i don’t get why people should identify with a bunch of football (or baseball or basketball or hockey) mercenaries who have just been paid to play on such-and-such a team. illogical (as mr. spock would say (~_^) ).

    @stakhanovite – “The first one is tradition. Supporting a team isn’t just about geography or success, it is often handed down from parent and grandparent to children.”

    yeah, we have some of that, too, in the u.s. ardent football fans often leave their season tickets to their kids in their wills.

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  23. @charles – “Another reason is large cities would almost always win, because a professional athlete is a one in ten thousand kind of guy. A hockey-mad city with a population of two million would crush any team raised from a city of two hundred thousand.

    A large proportion of fans are dumb and tribal, but true aficionados want to see the game played at the highest level, which means inevitably a draft.”

    that’s fair enough. i can kinda/sorta get that people might appreciate watching a good game. i’m not interested in sports, but i can imagine the appeal.

    still, why call the teams the “chicago” bears or the “green bay” packers? just call them something else and quit pretending that the teams have got anything to do with those cities except for having a stadium there!

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  24. @staffan – “I looked a bit at the soccer teams in Saudi Arabia and they have less than 10 percent foreign players….”

    oh, yeah?! THAT’S interesting! less broad-spectrum “tribalism” (the kind you discussed in your post) in saudi arabia, then, and more clannish tribalism. (^_^)

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  25. @sisyphean – “This is the Circuses part of ‘Bread and Circuses’.”

    yup.

    i’m also starting to think that the people making $$$ out of sports are tapping into these tribalistic feelings that people have in order to make more $$$. so then you’d never want to change the names from “denver” or “seattle” — unless someday we wind up with the “apple” iBroncos or the “sony” seahawks. that version of tribalism might work just as well! the “nike” knicks! (~_^)

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  26. @assistant village idiot – ” I can’t understand why folks are speaking disdainfully about that, as if they don’t have similar tribal loyalties in their own psyches.”

    i don’t. (~_^) at least none that i can think of. (i’m not really a “joiner.”)

    edit: well, except to my family. which makes sense (imho). i feel loyal to my country, too, and to my fellow citizens — but we were all born here (or were naturalized). which is my point. u.s. citizens share something in common. the citizens of denver share NOTHING in common with the players on the broncos. except for all being human…but then why not root for some other bunch of random humans? why make believe that they have anything to do with denver?

    Reply

  27. Tom Wolfe talked about this in his Jefferson Lecture:

    “The same phenomenon, championism, I believe, solves the mystery of something I had been unable to figure out for a very long time, namely, what is it that accounts for the extraordinary emotion of sports fans? What earthly connection do the citizens of New York City think they have to, say, the New York Yankees, whose team includes not one person from the city of New York, which is, in fact, 40 percent Latin American, and an assortment of mercenaries who will play anywhere for the top dollar? How can such a team get such a strong grip on local emotions? Here we see championism in its most elemental form. As far back as the story of David and Goliath in the Bible, the human beast has become excited by those who represent them in what at that stage of history was known as single combat. Before a battle was fought each side would send forth its fighting champion. Goliath, a giant, protected by the most elaborate armor, was so awesome, that at first no one among the Israelites dared confront him. Finally, a young unknown named David volunteered. He turned down King Saul’s offer of his own armor as protection and said he preferred to travel light and fast. He proceeded to slay Goliath with a slingshot. At this point, The Philistine army panicked. The defeat of its great champion was seen as a sign from the gods. They fled, the Israelites pursued and slaughtered them. This notion of a surrogate, a champion, who can represent an entire people and give them the exultation of victory when it triumphs and plunge them into depression of defeat when he loses, has persisted for millennia.

    Single combat was never pursued as a substitute for actual battle; these contests were always held as an indication of which way the gods were leaning.”

    http://www.neh.gov/about/awards/jefferson-lecture/tom-wolfe-lecture

    Reply

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