Thursday, December 3, 2009

For the Most Specious of Reasons

How does one pick a sports team to root for? I'm supporting the Ducks right now. Why? because when I decided to decide between being a Oregon State rooter or an Oregon rooter last month, I had a choice between watching the Ducks or the Beavers on TV. Both games were on at pretty much the same time, But Oregon was broadcast in high-definition, while the Oregon State game was in standard def.

I like a better picture so I watched the Oregon game, and enjoyed how they played. I've learned a little more about the players, so I have a little more invested in Oregon.

It's for that reason that I'm following the Ducks.

Isn't that a stupid reason? Maybe yes, maybe no.

How do most of us pick the team we root for? Often it's simply an accident of birth: the town or state we were born in. Because we happened to live closer to Buena High than Ventura High, I went to Buena, and as a result, was encouraged to cheer for our team and boo theirs.

Russian people are patriotic about Russia, and French people are patriotic about France.

There's a scene in Woody Allen's Love and Death where the Russian military leader is giving his troops a pep talk before they go into battle with the French. He is explaining about how important it is for them to win. He says that, "If they kill more of us, they win. If we kill more of them, we win!"

Allen, playing a conscripted soldier, raises his hand and asks, "W-what do we win?"

The Russian sergeant can't believe his ears.

"Imagine your loved ones conquered by Napoleon and forced to live under French rule. Do you want them to eat that rich food and those heavy sauces? Do you want them to have soufflé every meal and croissant?"

Here in America you better love it or leave it.

My point is that just as folk identify with the country they grew up in, I suspect that we support a particular team simply out of geographic, academic, familial or economic happenstance, a choice made not out of mentality, but sentimentality. Is that any sillier than picking a team based on which one happened to be playing on the network with the better picture?

Beats me. I'm not going to worry about it because I feel that picking a team doesn't have to be the result of careful planning. Just pick one. Cheer for them and boo the other guys. That's what I'll be doing this evening at a cheerfully-noisy establishment downtown. With plenty of screens.

All in high-def.

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