Conservative fixture George Will talking sports on the Charlie Rose Show acknowledged that he normally roots for teams that make “Liberals uncomfortable”. Elaborating, he observed how unlikely it was that he’d support teams from New York or Boston given the liberal proclivities of those two metropolitan areas.
How does one determine team support based largely on political affiliation? Professional team owners are rich and likely to be conservatively inclined. Could that be a significant factor in rooting preferences?. People of color (most likely Democrats) are prominent in several sports, so would Conservatives be less inclined to support certain teams? Would not Liberals reject teams they observed huddling for prayer before or after a game? Would they not be uncomfortable with quarterback Tim Tebow for his public professions of religious devotion? And what about players who make the sign of the cross or point to heaven on the field of play or kneel down in the end zone upon scoring a touchdown? Would this action make Liberals uneasy?
Although Will did not elaborate, one can assume that his loyalties would depend on whether teams were located in Red or Blue states. With this frame of reference, which teams would likely most “offend” Liberals? Surely those from Texas where conservative roots run deep. More broadly, Liberals would likely root against teams from the South, a region located in the grip of right wingers. The same would be true of teams from Arizona where Governor Jan Brewer and Phoenix sheriff Joe Arpaio have long aroused Liberal ire. Then there is Wichita, Kansas, home to the Wichita State basketball team and to Koch Industries. Surely the team’s success in 2013/2014 did not sit well with Liberal sports fans. They also had reason to oppose teams from states like North Carolina and Wisconsin where Republican governors have eagerly embraced Conservatve agendas (and on the other hand to support teams from such Liberal bastions as Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and California).
All of this is decidedly silly, if for no other reason that most athletes are typically apolitical (with notable exceptions such as Bill Bradley, Jim Bunning, Gerald Ford, J.C. Watts, Jack Kemp, etc.) What Will’s remarks reveal, however, is just how polarized political identities have become when each score, each win or loss is viewed through the lens of political advantage or retribution.
Most all fans are highly partisan but it is team, not party, loyalty that explains their devotion and that stokes their passions.