Time to come clean, my Berkeley friends! If a Cal athlete is competing against a USA athlete, I will root for the Cal athlete and I am not ashamed to admit it. Here is why I do it and here is why you should do it, too!
Sports fans are tribal and there are no sports fans more tribal than college sports fans. To them, their teams reflect not only their region, but their lifestyle. To be a Cal fan is to care about academics and be interested in more than just football and basketball. To be a USC fan is to care about winning above all else, independent of morality. And to be a Stanford fan is to be very, very lonely.
Join me after the jump to learn more about why it is your god given right to root for Cal above all else! GO BEARS!
When the Cal football team wins a big game, we beat our chests at work as if we had anything to do with it. We brag to our friends as if we had 4 sacks ourselves and threw a half dozen touchdowns to our cubicle mates. I mean you read blogs, ok? You probably are having trouble reading this post through a Cheeto haze. Your Ding Dong fueled afternoon consists of sitting around and thinking about things you could be accomplishing. So many things! And you could be accomplishing them!
Olympic sports are no different! When Natalie Coughlin wins a Gold, you go to your friends and brag about it, like you could doggie paddle more than 30 feet. When Alex Morgan scores the game winning goal, you pretend like you and her are best friends forever and ever and ever and ever. It is the exact same thing as adding Keenan Allen on Facebook after he scores 3 TDs in a football game.
Now, when America does well, it is much tougher to take credit for it. This is for two main reasons:
1. We are mostly surrounded by other Americans. So, when Michael Phelps wins 8 medals, who are you going to brag to? Allow me to illustrate this in a one act play entitled "Three Americans."
American 1: "Hey, man, my guy just won 8 golds! It's like I just was able to waddle from my couch to my fridge without breaking a sweat!"
American 2: "Oh ya? Well, I'm also American, so go us!"
American 3: "And I'm American too. WE'RE THE BEST!"
So, what do we get out of that? Nothing.
And even when we do interact with people who root for other countries, it is usually not in an antagonistic manner. We have a melting pot in America and a lot of people here are rooting for various teams. Even if you do not live in the Bay Area or LA or NYC, you probably still have a lot of friends or know a lot of cool people who may not necessarily be rooting solely for America.
For example, valued reader JustBear was rooting for Japan against the United States Of Alex Morgan the other day in the soccer gold medal game. I know next to nothing about JustBear,but I know that JustBear is awesome from previous interactions with him and/or her at CGB. So although some friendly trash talk can take place (and did take place), it's not as clear cut as a Cal v. UCLA or Cal v. USC situation.
America having so many different cultures or people that can co-exist together with few problems not only makes it a great country, but also makes talking smack tough. Let me illustrate this with a one act play entitled "Two People Rooting For Different Nations."
Person 1: "Hey man, my guy just won 8 golds! It's like I just was able to do math or science!"
Person 2: "Oh, that's cool, I mean I don't root for America, I root for Vietnam instead."
Person 1: "Does that mean you know a great pho place around here?"
Person 2: "Yes, yes I do."
Person 1: "Great, let's do it. I love pho. VIETNAM IS AMAZING!"
So, either you can't brag to people because they are also rooting for America or you can't brag to people, because their country has that delicious spongy bread that you use to eat the food with. Or lamb kabobs. Or pupusas. It's all very frustrating.
Don't you see why rooting for Cal first makes that much more sense. It doesn't mean that you hate America or root for the terrorists to win or think that Whole Foods has the best quinoa around (though clearly they do).
Additionally, often times you follow these athletes as they matriculate through Cal. We followed Max Zhang, for example, as he became a huge fan favorite at Cal. We want to continue rooting for him, even after Cal. Now, why would we all of a sudden root against him were he to play for China? I realize that that analogy is poor as China did not play USA and was a fairly bad team, but the point still stands.
Everybody remembers that Michael Phelps beat Some Dude in 2008 by .01 seconds in Some Race. But how many people know that it was actually Cal's Milorad Cavic of Serbia? If Cal's Milorad Cavic beat Michael Phelps, you know that you'd be crowing about it! You know that you'd be bragging about how it was Cal that took down Mr. Olympics!
In conclusion, I hate it when people end things with "In Conclusion." So hackneyed! But as sports fans, we must do what is in our rational self-interest to obtain as many bragging rights as humanly possible. Enjoying the games is OK, but talking shit to your friends is even better! The ability to brag to your friends/frenemies is significantly easier if you root for Cal above all else. So, don't be ashamed to become that East Coast Ivy League Liberal Elite rooting against America. Don't be afraid to let the terrorists win! But only if Cal is involved! GO BEARS!