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I Bleed Blue and Gold

(Every year, Eric and I like to run a sports-themed post either before or after the Super Bowl. Last year, we wrote about Bill Simmon’s theory on “The Secret" (we’re sure he is a huge follower of OnV and theories of counter-insurgency), relating it to “War is War”. The year before we wrote “The Sports Team from My Area is Superior to the Sports Team from Your Area”. Check them out.)

The last time I went to the doctor to get my blood drawn, something downright bizarre happened. The nurse tied off my arm, made me pump the squishy ball, then inserted the needle into my arm.

She looked up astonished. Instead of red blood, out came blue and gold. Worried, the nurse went to call a doctor, but I stopped her.

“I’m a UCLA Bruin, I f***ing bleed blue and gold.”

Why do I relate my die hard allegiance to UCLA on a blog that ostensibly discusses/debates war and warfare (with some other violence thrown in for good measure)? Because right now I am in the midst of a personal crisis. And that crisis happens to relate to our widely-read/commented-on/fisked post called, “Getting Rid of the Chicago School of Counter-Insurgency.”

I spent the last few months applying to business schools in my native southern California. When it comes to top schools in Los Angeles, there are two: the Anderson school at UCLA and the Marshall school at USC.

As I said in my introduction, I bleed UCLA blue and gold. I love my alma mater. I read everything I can on UCLA athletics, especially basketball. Normally, this isn’t a problem. Except that every good Bruin also hates our crosstown rivals, the USC Trojans, and like I said, USC has one of the best MBA programs in southern California. So when it came time to apply to schools, I applied to USC along with UCLA.

Last week, both schools offered me a spot in their 2014 classes.

This is where rational choice theory, behavioral economics and our post, “Getting Rid of the Chicago School of Counter-Insurgency” come smashing together. I have a tough decision to make, and I’d like to say I will make it purely rationally, guided by metrics and facts alone. But I won’t. I bleed bruin blue and gold.

On the rational side, I will weigh the rankings in magazines, the opinions of experts, the opinions of people in the entertainment industry, and the costs of each school. I will compare each school’s curriculum, and each school’s access to career opportunities. I will make a spreadsheet with pros and cons.

At the same time, I know emotion will play a role. While I was waiting to interview with UCLA, the lobby had a TV that projected, “Welcome Michael Cummings to Anderson!” That was really cool. When I visited USC film school, they had two buildings named “Spielberg Hall” and “Zemekis Hall”. I mean, that’s pretty cool too, isn’t it?

But the biggest factor has nothing to do with rankings, education or cost. It has to do with my desire to remain a dedicated sports fan, the type of sports fan who does “8 claps” with his wife in their living room and knows the words to the UCLA fight song. On some emotional level, I don’t want to give that up.

As we tried to convey in the previous article, the issue is about balance. Human decisions rely on rational explanations and emotional responses. I have an emotional connection to UCLA forged through watching countless games in person and on television, not to mention my memories from four great years at UCLA. To make my decision to attend a graduate school, though, I will try to put that aside, though I never really will.

The “Getting Rid of Chicago School of Counter-Insurgency” post had a simple point, humans act rationally and emotionally. Sports and rooting for sports teams reveals this; so does any study economics or warfare. I have chosen a lifelong allegiance to UCLA, and making a choice about graduate schools has shown me how rational, irrational, emotional, self-interested and unconscious/subconscious that decision was.

seven comments

I can’t believe you are going to waste your time making a spreadsheet! Lol! Go Bruins :)


My dad, for years, told me and my brother to go to a school with sports team. I went to UCSB. I loved it, but he was right; I wish they had football.


Papa Cummings is a wise man. My dad told me “USC is where you go if you flunk out of UCLA.” He still claims it was true in the 1970’s when he was a student!


Yeah, I wish the decision was that simple. Applying to grad schools has helped me re-examine my Bruin allegiance, though I will always support UCLA athletics first and foremost.


For a second I thought this might be about your allegiance to Ambuehl Elementary School- remember Blue v. Gold games? Some pretty intense “capture the flag” as I recall! Seems the spirit of rivalry begins at a ripe young age. Good to see you guys doing good things.


Wow, I had totally forgotten about Blue/Gold week. I still remember Eric and Joe and JJ and I trying to get on the same blue team so we could compete together.

Blast from the past. And I hope all is going well with you.


Yeah Ambuehl! I don’t think they have a NCAA program though…