Nationalism, Pride & Identity

By Sean M.

Recently I had a chance to catch the IAAF World Championships here in Daegu, Korea. The events were fantastic. The crowds were energetic. It was a thrill being able to see people from all over the world, specifically since Korea is quite homogeneous in comparison to my homeland, the good ol’ USofA.

I attended the events with a compatriot, a blue blooded American from the Republic of Texas. Throughout the event he would shout with enthusiasm at anonymous athletes who happened to share his country of origin.

I found I was less enthusiastic about those athletes, even though they wore 3 particular letters across their chest. This, of course, led my acquaintance to challenge my patriotism. It led me to think, and subsequently realize I never root for any athlete just because he or she is from my home country (unless they are from Philly!). I think, as a result of my travels, I’ve become more supportive of athletes from places— like Grenada for instance— who don’t have access to multi-mullion dollar training facilities, in their own backyard. I feel that, in a way, they have more to overcome. Surely, to compete on that stage as an athlete, everyone has to train, but in a place like America there are more opportunities for athletes. I appreciate this fact about America, but as a fan of perseverance and self-determination,  I find that I am more supportive of athletes from countries where they’ve had to overcome more, especially considering how much the average American takes for granted.

There was, however, one countryI did support, with zeal ~