A few days ago, I had the privilege of attending a riveting basketball game with my father. The game was a highly anticipated matchup between the Bay Area’s only professional team, the Golden State Warriors, and the respected Oklahoma City Thunder. The Warriors had cemented a firm lead into the final fourth quarter of the game, only to see it suddenly relinquished following a clutch three pointer by one of the Thunder’s main stars with just over two seconds left. In just a couple of minutes, the local Oakland crowd had gone from being jubilant, to anxious, and with that made three, despondent. While I had anticipated going home happy, I now dreaded walking through the staircases and exits with equally miserable fans.
However, it was not meant to be. In the last play of the game, one of the Warriors’ star players hit a clutch shot, securing victory for his team in the final seconds. I blew a major sigh of relief, and then proceeded to join my fellow fans in the boisterous celebration. Some of the more rowdy fans even screamed out “fuck OKC!” in response to their team’s triumph. Attending a sports game is always an exciting experience, but being a passionate sports fan has also provided me with interesting observations regarding the human condition.
Put simply, humans are at their core a tribal people. While this may be obvious to many, people often conceive of tribalism in racial, ethnic, religious, and national terms, while neglecting the various other identities that people can cultivate. What makes sports so interesting is that they simultaneously erode and strengthen tribal identities. In the United States, sports break down barriers between different groups. Warriors games feature the most diverse group of fans in the entire country, and yet they all unite in the name of their favorite team. Such devotion to their teams often translates into angry boos and invective, directed at either the opposing team or refs who make the fatal mistake of making a call against the home team. The visiting team, depending on how successful or notorious, serves as the Despised Other. Most of the time, the angry passions of sports fans extend to talking trash, cursing at the refs, or belittling the opposing team. However, occasionally this patriotism can incite violence in major cities in the United States.
Outside of North America, divisions related to sports go beyond the occasional fight, and can even enhance sectarian and ethnic divisions in various countries. Whether it’s drunken soccer hooligans in Glasgow or Israeli Jewish fans who are so racist that they boo their own team’s Muslim players whenever they score goals, sports can strengthen the chauvinism inherent in more nationalistic societies.
In North American societies where open and proud expressions of white and Christian identities have been rendered taboo, sports is one of the few tribes that a white person can passionately support without being deemed an awful bigot. Since we’re all tribal anyway, some might ask, “what’s the point of curtailing immigration or upholding the white character of North America? We’ll find some way to fight regardless of demographics.” Others might ask why our blog endorses Western values of universalism while simultaneously advocating on behalf of whites.
It’s a matter of the levels of tribalism. Give me a few the occasional fight or alcohol induced violence over the kind of racial tension that erodes and undermines a nation at its very core. Since humans are tribal and prone to fighting as it is, societies would do well to mitigate or prevent as many forms of division as possible. However, since that genie has already been released from its lamp, I’m here to tell white people to embrace their tribalism. Sure, be tactful and composed about it, but never be ashamed to embrace your identity, since other groups certainly aren’t.
Oh, and in the meantime, go Warriors!