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By Brandon Abbs

We humans seem to have an inclination toward letting group hope and pride swallow us up. That isn’t a bad thing, but when it becomes destructive is when it becomes a negative trope. In the wake of some recent losses by Batavia sports teams, it could be argued that this is an ample occasion to discuss when feelings of patriotism and team spirit translate from something actively and decidedly positive into something negative.

Firstly, a definition is required; what is this phenomena that no one word can truly describe, the phenomena of putting the whole of your being into support of or faith in something and aggressively hoping for a positive outcome? That seems to function for a good meaning. But, what is it that causes mankind to experience this, and does it do more to hurt or help societies?

How can our allegianistic tendencies be beneficial to the world community? As my health teacher, Mr. Beckmann, put it, ¨Take the Olympics… People may follow players from their favorite basketball team or hockey team compete for Team USA. This can bring a country together as well as bring different fan bases together to root for the same team.¨

Feelings of fervor and faith like this can unite people through a common cause, no matter how large of scale that cause may be. This can safely be labeled a good thing.

Being present at games, it’s amazing to me as I watch not necessarily the players out on the field, but the ripple effect of excitement and enchantment that spreads through the crowd. Something comes over the spectators around me, something flares up in their minds that’s almost magical. Something as contagious as a yawn shoots through the crowd. It exhilarates me and scares me. Where does it come from, the urge to join in the trend of investing your heart and soul into the uplifting of the image of something?

¨ I think people get invested in sports because it brings people together,¨ Mr. Beckmann opined. ¨People grow up watching their favorite team and it becomes part of who they are.¨

Is it really about community, or is it something more? I believe it’s about being a part of something larger than yourself, about partaking in a journey in which you can truly be invested. It’s about feeling valuable. But sometimes this desire for inclusion translates into something dangerous.

For an extreme example, intense nationalistic tendencies often spell drastic foreign policy for countries. In one case, Japan, Nazi Germany, and the U.S. all let fly their brightest nationalist colors around the time of World War II, a recent example of when there was very extreme division between nations in the world. That didn’t end well.

There are two sides to every coin. Feelings of patriotism can be very positive, but they also have potential to turn into something worse. Still, I’m glad that this kind of electricity can and does flow through us – the kind that causes us to care about the outcome of the Super Bowl, the kind that permeated the fans at the first Bulldogs football game of the season, even the kind that made them revolt in indignity at the end of it. I’m glad that the wealth of emotions resulting from this energy slaps us in the face and has us feel the world. I was never a huge sports person, but it is understandable how so many are captivated by them. All variations of athletics are compatible with wider overarching themes of patriotism, and while a young generation is growing that doesn’t have the same level of respect as previous ones for nationalistic ideals, and I fall into this category of the population, I believe anyone can learn to respect that.

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