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The Sports Team From My Area is Superior to the Sports Team From Your Area

I love America--if I'm being honest, I love California more, but that's just splitting hairs. Though I loved living in Europe, I'll take my home town any day.

The thing is, I don’t hold much stock in this affection. I know how capricious and random my love for my home country is. Though I love my country, other people don't. And this is okay, because America isn't objectively any better than any other country.

The most accurate analogy is sports teams. I love the Los Angeles Lakers and Michael C loves his Bruins. We both love the Anaheim Angels if they make the playoffs. I hate Notre Dame, the Yankees, and every Boston area sports team. But I also realize no sports team is objectively "better" in terms of character or intrinsic quality, no one is wrong for lovng their team.
An example. My brother and his fiance went to UCLA. A good friend of our family went to USC. During a car ride, both got into argument (I may have started it) over which team had worse fans. My brother's Bruin-ite fiance claimed USC fans were the rudest she had ever seen. The Trojan claimed to have seen UCLA students make a lewd gesture towards his USC parents. Both claimed the other sides fans were vulgar and rude; both had virtually the same anecdotes.

Anyone on the outside can see the truth: neither school has better fans. They are all just fans.

Why do we love our sports teams? Most of the time it's because that team is the closest to you, or your parents rooted for them, or you went there for college. If you live in Southern California, then you probably love the team from the area you grew up in. Or you root for whoever is winning. In New York, you instinctively hate on your local teams if they don't win a championship.

In other words, the reason you love your sports team is completely random. Just like your love for your home country.

I love America because I grew up in America. It is familiar to me, and my pleasant memories of it from my youth make me love it. But I didn't choose the country I was born in. It’s one thing to say America is the country for which you have the most affection, but it is another thing altogether to realize it isn’t objectively the best.

CS Lewis made this point once, and I’ll paraphrase it: do you think it is an accident, or divine providence that 99.9999% of people love the country they grew up in?
Like I said, think sports teams. I love the Lakers and hate the Celtics, but I realize this love is irrational. Neither team is actually better or worse than another. Sure Kevin Garnett is over the hill, but I shouldn't hate him for that. I hate Florida, but I felt bad when Urban Meyer had heart trouble. We care about our sports teams, but not in any meaningful way.
In the end, I wouldn’t kill over the Lakers, and that's really the main difference between sports teams and nations.

eight comments

“completely random” would mean a lack of any definite plan, purpose, or pattern. You’ve already provided reasons (quantitative and qualitative) why people love certain schools or teams.

One criterion we know about is simply that some teams are better than others. There are various methods of analysis including the use of numbers that are amenable in terms of determining objectivity.

The repeated reference to America as not objectively the best or any better reads as a bizarre indulgence in literary corporal mortification. Simply asserting this position does little to help its veracity. Also, an innate challenge to objectivity almost certainly would need to come from either a Constructivist or epistemological vantage point.

Luke, you make an interesting point about the assertions of the post. I agree with Michael that one is predisposed to have affinity for the place he or she lives due to association, shared culture, and national or local identity. I will have to disagree with C.S. Lewis as far as his percentage. History will show through patterns of mass migration that there are large populations of people who do not love the land in which they live because of war, famine, or disease.

This flight must indicate displeasure in one’s homeland. If you ask a survivor if they miss their homeland, they may say yes, but actions indicate they prefer where they relocated to.

With regard to the statement that America is not the best or better, I understand you’re meaning. Simply that America does not hold superiority over the rest of the world with regard to individual worth or morality. I can understand Luke’s objection to the wording with consideration to America’s actualized superiority in GDP, military technology, etc.

I think the general assertion is that one team or country or state or whatever is not better than another simply because they believe themselves to be.

Hey, first I’m not the first person “(to debate how “greatest bestAmerica is.). I think discussing the “greatest” of a country is bizarre. I’m simply responding to the people who say this, and pointing out how ridiculous it is to say that.

And most of the reasons we love our sports teams our random, or at the very least have nothing to do with the teams themselves outside of their location. Each reason I pointed out was essentially meaningless.

My larger point still stands. No one loves their country because of metrics or GDP or what not. We love our country because we were born there.

@ Padge – what do you think the percentage is? it certainly is above 99.99%, or do you think more than 1 in every 1000 people dislikes their home country? I know China, America, Europe and India have very low emigration rates, and even emigrants still love their home country.

Yeah the sports situation gets complicated. I mean, how many Yankees and Lakers fans exist because the teams are so good? I see Yankees hats in LA and Kobe gets MVP chants in Philadelphia, what is the deal?

At the same time, LA has Clippers fans. They are the best by no metric. Vikings fans haven’t won a championship in years. So clearly there is a bias, and that bias is location. Eric C asserts that this bias continues to nation-states and I tend to agree.

@Eric – Perhaps the global percentage is as such, however the same percentage cannot be applied to every nation and every population. If all of China approves of their country, 50% of the world has national pride. Such is the problem with statistics. What was the sample size used to obtain that percentage and how many countries were polled. Etc. What I am saying is that on a smaller scope, within individual nations, that percentage does not apply.

With regard to the continued loyalty to a nation post emigration; my assertion is that such approval of the country fled is counter indicated by the act of relocating. For example, many Mexican nationals move to the US for work. They may still love their country and even consider themselves more Mexican than American, however the act of leaving due to a lack of employment is indicative of a preference for the US.

Refugees love their homes, but they don’t prefer remaining and endangering themselves to finding someplace else to live.

@ Matt – Let me just ask you, what percentage of people do you think love the country they were born in?

@ Eric – I think we’re arguing similar points: mainly that the claiming national pride for a country may not actually represent that same loyalty in action.

Well, I agree, people may think they hold more affection for their country than they actually do. This has actually inspired me to write a post.