Saturday, August 9, 2008

Nationalism As A Means To Attract Non Fans

The last post was written tongue (keyboard?) in cheek, but I really do think minimizing nationalism--even if this means a broader role for corporate sponsors--would be a good idea (see the last post and Scott's comment).

Not because nationalism in sporting events leads to violence (or, because as Scott suggests, it minimizes it by channeling violence ritualistically into sport), but because defining national superiority by sports victories can mask much more serious problems. It is the old bread and circus problem of ancient Rome.

Too many Americans think "WE'RE NUMBER ONE" and "These colors don't run" because we won the gold medal in hockey at the 1980 Olympics, or because we won more gold medals than China in 2004. China is certainly hoping to prove their superiority by winning more medals than any other nation this year.

I, for one, would rather see our nation do better in education, health care, or environmental leadership, than to beat Lithuania at basketball.

Nationalism, though, is the primary way of bringing in viewers who otherwise would never watch a two-man scull race or the 200-meter breaststroke. Non-fans want to see the home nation athlete win, even if they only watch downhill skiing once every four years.

Energy crisis? Sorry, I didn't notice; the glint of a gold medal was in my eye...

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