Nationalism, Sports, and Loss

I don’t care about the Olympics.

There. I said it.

While everyone else caught gold medal fever this summer and sang the praises of Olympic heroes old and new, I awaited the end of a long, ugly baseball season and the start of NFL Training Camp.

I don’t care about American athletes in international competition.

This contrasted strikingly with the people of Scotland during Wimbledon. No British tennis player had won a Men’s Final since Fred Perry in 1936. While I was visiting my friend Dylan in Edinburgh, Andy Murray, a Scotsman, made it to the Men’s Final against perhaps the greatest tennis player in history, Roger Federer.

The entire United Kingdom rested its hopes and dreams on Murray’s lanky shoulders. To make things worse, the oft-disowned people of Scotland added plenty of their own provincial pressures. And when Andy Murray lost, like he always did, he tearfully thanked the people of England for their support.

I was cheering for Federer, but I couldn’t take any pleasure in the misery of the long-suffering English tennis fans. Normally, I have no issues with this. I cheered harder for the Giants to end the Patriots’ perfect season than I cheered for my own team most of that season. I hate Brett Favre so much that I relished in his failures quarterbacking my hometown Vikings. RELISHED!

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When the Indianapolis Colts won Super Bowl XLI, it was one of the most euphoric moments of my life. Dominic Rhodes sealed the win with a first down and I laid back in my seat, smiling a smile that would not leave until the next day.

When the Colts lost Super Bowl XLIV, it was one of the worst feelings of my life. When Tracy Porter took a 4th quarter Manningception to the house, I sunk in my seat, despondent and sick to my stomach.

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I can’t tell you why I don’t invest in American athletes abroad. Maybe it’s because we don’t have an international athletic identity. Maybe I, like most Americans, are geared towards the transient nature of sports. We are trained to see sports as a business rather than entertainment.

All I know is that all gut-punch losses feel the same. I can’t take pleasure in it anymore. Schadenfreude is dead.

Unless it’s the Patriots. Or the Red Sox. Seriously, fuck Boston.

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4 thoughts on “Nationalism, Sports, and Loss

  1. You know I feel your pain when it comes to the Colts.
    Regarding the Olympics: I’d never say that I catch Gold Medal Fever or anything like that (though I will say I prefer the winter Olympics to the summer games). However, I do like to watch just to see individual moments of athletic superiority. If someone sets an Olympic Record or a World Record, blows away the competition, or simply does something new, it’s fun to see. It’s all the more fun if that athlete is from my home country.

    • You might remember me in the Richfield house squeeling – yes squeeling – when Zach Parise net one against Luongo IN VANCOUVER with 24 seconds left in the third (sure we lost in OT but he’s from MN – Go Wild!). I think I kissed Baxter. The summer trials previous to that I screamed – yes screamed – at Jason Lezak chasing down a cocky frenchman for relay gold. I’m not sure what it is, I’m not a particularly nationalistic person…UNTIL the olympics. Then I’m kind of crazy. It may be having grown up listening to stories about Herb Brooks and the (mostly Bostonian/Minnesotan/Wisconsinite) miracle on ice, or just losing most of the games I played in high school and thus REALLY appreciating underdogs. I couldn’t care less about the NBA. The NFL is tiresome. I do still love the NHL and college hockey. I like stories. And reasons to yell at hockey players. The olympics give me both! God bless America!

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