Saturday, October 01, 2005

Separated at birth.

In today's Freep there's an entertaining and thought-provoking article on the way parents inculcate loyalty to particular sports teams in their children. The specific context here is the intense local rivalry between U-M and MSU fans, but I think the phenomenon the article touches on is practically universal. Growing up in Massachusetts, I was taught from birth to love the Boston Red Sox and to despise the New York Yankees. I still hold these attitudes today, so it's clear that Mom and Dad raised me well. Unlike many American Catholics, I was not raised as a Notre Dame football fan - or any kind of football fan, for that matter, since baseball was the only sport we really followed. When I got to Notre Dame, I quickly learned just how many people were raised to root for the Fighting Irish; I observed the legions of fans bearing small children decked out in ND gear with a twinge of sadness, reflecting that many of these kids were liable to be disappointed when they grew up and failed to gain admission to an increasingly more selective school they'd been raised to regard as a kind of earthly paradise. As a relative newcomer to Michigan, I don't have much invested in the U-M/MSU rivalry. If I were to root for one or the other, it would probably be U-M - mainly because I was more impressed with the game day experience in Ann Arbor than in East Lansing and because I like Ann Arbor as a community. However, if I'd grown up in Michigan and had been subject to the kind of conditioning the kids discussed in today's Freep are going through, there's no telling how I'd feel about the Wolverines and the Spartans. AMDG.


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