How Sports Can Supplement Identity
by Sana Kalyanpur
She likes the Warriors. She likes the Golden State Warriors. It takes me a while to fully comprehend the words, and once I do, I’m upset, annoyed, and a little angry all at once. I really thought I liked her…
For some sports fans, affinity towards a particular team can be a defining characteristic of one’s personality. Strong connections can be formed simply because two people happen to be fans of the same team – and conversely, realizing that someone supports a rival team can result in feelings ranging from indifference to resentment.
As someone who admittedly does not follow any sports, can not remember how many innings there are in baseball, and actually had to double check the name of my local basketball team (go Warriors!), sports fanaticism initially seemed absurd to me. However, upon further reflection, I realized that the majority of people are hugely passionate about one or more sports, and thus lay all their support and devotion upon their favored team. We typically want to befriend people because of shared connections, and supporting the same team is a strong similarity between two people, which can easily plant the seeds of years of friendship to come.
The Vancouver Stanley Cup riot of 2011 showed us that sports fanaticism can reach truly shocking levels. After the Boston Bruins’ defeated the Vancouver Canucks for the Stanley Cup (for those who are clueless about sports as I am, the Stanley Cup refers to hockey), a gigantic violent riot broke out in downtown Vancouver. This resulted in multiple people being stabbed, and over one hundred people being injured, all due to the evidently upsetting outcome of a hockey game.
In light of this event, and others like it, it is not so unbelievable that my close friend rebuffed a beautiful girl, who he initially thought was perfect, purely because she identified as a fan of a sports team that rivaled the team he supported, forever tainting her persona in his mind. Being a fan of a sports team can truly be a central part of one’s identity – just as some identify as feminists, vegans, Beyonce fans, or Californians, others define themselves as loyal fans of the Warriors.