Reported by Cheryl Whiting
When people move to a new city, they may adopt the city’s sports teams as their own, which can help them connect socially, but can also complicate things when interests or team loyalties lie elsewhere.
John Russell teaches sports philosophy at Langara College and has published a paper challenging the notion of loyalty to sports teams.
“Our allegiances to sports team are accidents of geography, usually. What these teams provide is an opportunity to participate in a narrative of a community and in the narrative of a team that’s a big part of that community,” he said.
Russell says it can be difficult for people coming to a new place to acclimatize to a new sports team, especially if they are loyal to another team.
Sticking with hometown team
Lydia Dani moved from Alberta a few months ago to study at Langara. She is an Edmonton Oilers fan, and cannot see that changing quickly.
“I’m still attached to [the Oilers],” she said. “If I went to a game of the Canucks and the Oilers here, I would be rooting for Edmonton.”
Karan Gosal is an international student from India. He knows little about hockey, but would like to attend a Canucks game.
“[My friends and I] are new to Canada. We don’t know about the games over here. We have been here for eight months,” Gosal said. “I’m planning on watching an ice hockey game.
“My friend [saw one]. I also want to go, I find ice hockey very interesting.”
Russell feels that sports can encourage community but being too loyal to a team can cause problems.
“These allegiances are not benign,” he said. “There are sometimes riots. The partisanship contributes to tribalism, [and] that is a mixed bag morally. It does encourage community, but community can be oppressive,” Russell said.