|It's also interesting that it was a sporting event that turned the author's opinion about the flag. As a non-sports fan, I find the whole phenomenon fascinating. Masculinity, patriotism, commercialism, narrative and more, all over the world, all the time. Do professional sports freak anyone else out?|
Rather neatly, this tallies with a thread I was thinking of starting for a while, on how sport helps to define people's approaches to race, class, gender and other fun stuff.
For example, I support England and Wales in football - being Welsh by blood and English by birth. If England and Wales were playing, I'd support Wales.However, I am probably more involved with England, just because England gets a lot more media coverage, so I feel more familiar with and more involved with the England team a lot of the time. I'll also support any other home nation (that is, Northern Ireland and Northern Irteland). and the Republic of Ireland, in approximately that order. This despite, of course, being deeply ambivalent about the governments, national perceptions and activities of these countries, and for that matter despite the fact that there are other, far nicer, nations that I don't have the same visceral desire to see do well, even though there are nations I "like" better (France for its opposition to the war on Iraq, Holland for its welfare system, say).
On the other hand, I don't feel much kinship with the idea of Englishness, or the kind of Englishness that a lot of other football supporters seem to espouse and represent. Compare rugby, where I find the England team itself oddly repellent. Possibly because supporters and players tend to represent a sort of evocation and celebration of a particular form of self-congratulatory Englishness that is far simpler (and more class-based) than football. On the other hand, football is hardly a workers' utopia - Ron Atkinson's recent outbursts have demonstrated the sort of thing that those within and without the game probably expect to get away with all the time (Alan Green describing Man City sub Sun Jihai as "no 17- chicken chow mein" springs to mind as another example of this kind of shit), and, as discussed elsewhere, the paucity of British Asian footballers is disturbing. Likewise, I'm generally supporting t'other side in cricket, because I'm afraid I rather enjoy the idea of the suppliant countries to which England gace the game being better at it than the English? Does this make me unpatriotic? Possibly, possibly not. Personally, I think it just means that I despise the ECB, which I suspect is a question of class rather than country.
So, how does sport affect ideas of nation and national belonging, and how does it affect your thoughts about the country you occupy and the people you share it with? Is it possible to be a supporter without some form of nationalism, or even racism, coming into it?