How often do you root for your country in international competitions?
If your country is the USA, as it is for most of y’all, and you are not a particularly focused fan of gymnastics or figure skating, I’m guessing no more than the Olympics, every other year or so. Perhaps not then, of course—or maybe it’s only a summer sport, women’s basketball or volleyball, every four years. Or not at all, of course.
I was thinking about this because the Cricket World Cup has started, and also the French Open is going on—I don’t follow tennis, myself, but I know a bunch of people who are super into it. And of course many Americans root for American tennis players, or American athletes in other individual sports, without thinking of it as rooting for the USA. Whereas in team sports, you root for the country, because, well, that’s your only choice, isn’t it?
Most people from the US who follow sports, I think, follow American football, basketball and/or baseball, and maybe hockey. There are fans of other sports (soccer, lacrosse, curling, field hockey, crew, ultimate Frisbee) but it seems like mostly it’s the big four. And—I mean, there’s a Baseball World Cup, now, but it’s a minor event, and frankly baseball fanatics are as likely to support their real (MLB) team’s stars on whatever team they play for rather than root solidly for the USA. There’s Olympic hockey, absolutely, and I think NHL fans do tune in for it, but it isn’t as big a deal as the Stanley Cup. Olympic basketball is fun but so incredibly unbalanced that I get the impression people don’t really get much of a kick out of rooting USA, and of course American Football is American.
Whereas if you’re a fan of world football or cricket or rugby (but not the other rugby? I know nothing of rugby) you have national matches several times a year, right? I mean, some of them are qualifying matches for the actual international tournaments, and some of them are ‘friendly’, but they exist and are on the radio.
I dunno, it just seems odd to me that the US, which is culturally very patriotic/nationalist, and culturally very into competitions of various kinds, doesn’t actually enjoy the competition of national team against other countries’ national teams with any real prominence. I mean, most of it is that we are so big and so regional that we don’t need to root for USA, having plenty of four major sports leagues plus collegiate sports and minor leagues as well as regional leagues for most other sports. And we’re so culturally exceptionalist that it comes out as provincialism, supporting our quintessentially American sports rather than the ones other countries are good at. And then, as I said, we kinda-sorta treat our countrymen in individual sports such as golf or tennis as kind of national teams of one, in a way. But still, it seems odd.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,