2 Comments on USA! USA! USA!

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,

2 thoughts on “USA! USA! USA!

  1. irilyth

    I feel like men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s hockey, each have a National Team, which play in various periodic tournaments. For soccer, World Cup of course, and various other Cup type things that may be more frequent (Copa America? I’m sure TSOR could turn up some stuff but I’m lazy); for women’s hockey, there’s Worlds every year, and the two women’s hockey fans with whom I am most familiar are super into it. I know nothing about men’s hockey, but my favorite women’s hockey fan says that there is in fact an annual men’s Worlds too, but it overlaps with the NHL playoffs, which means that it’s not necessarily the best of the best players, and often isn’t clear exactly who it’s going to be until fairly late, because maybe some good team will suffer an upset in the playoffs and suddenly a bunch of good players are available, or whatever.

    I don’t know whether NHL fans pay attention to men’s Worlds; I’ve certainly never heard anyone talk about it, whereas people at work and on Facebook are talking about the Bruins all the time. I feel like World Cup soccer is a big deal on both the men’s and women’s sides, although I’ve also often worked at places with a lot of international folks, who were often rooting for their home countries, and especially on the men’s side, where the US team has not historically been very good, there hasn’t been a ton of enthusiasm for them.

    1. Vardibidian Post author

      Now that you mention it, I have at least vaguely paid attention to men’s hockey’s Worlds, but I don’t think I’ve ever followed it while it was happening, as opposed to hearing about it later, that some college player (or recent college player) was prominent in it in some way. I’m pretty sure that the number of Americans who root for the US in that tournament is pretty small.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.