Unwitting Homerism

A topic I often muse over is the great potential for ignorance when it comes to homerism.


No, I’m not talking about THAT Homer! I mean homerism, as in, rooting for the home team. The most obvious examples are just that, rooting for the sports team in your town. But it can mean a politician or political party one identifies with or a city or town one lives in. It can also be much more mundane, like loyalty to a particular brand of beer, or car, or even deodorant. And the most obvious example of homerism on the geopolitical front is that of nationalism and patriotism.

The first thing I contemplate is how self-aware people are to their loyalty biases, and the second thing I ponder is just how arbitrary these things are when you start thinking about them beyond the typical superficial scrutiny we offer in everyday life. Just how self-aware is the average person when it comes to rooting for the home team?

Have you ever watched a sporting event with someone who seemed to display blind allegiance to their team? Of course we expect home team loyalty, but I’m talking about every aspect of the game. For example, the referees always “have it in” for the home team. Or the home team never gets the breaks that other teams get. Or the ever-present “unbelievable” or “incredible” remarks when an otherwise banal and commonplace play or call goes against the home team. It’s as if people think there is some mystical force working against them and the team they root for. But of course we know this is ridiculous. The fans of the other team are thinking and saying the same things. I often wonder just how cognizant of bias people are during these situations.

Now extend that to a global view with nationalism and patriotism. Most people love and are loyal to their home country, but what is also true is that a country is simply a set of documents combined with an artificial, man-made border. Don’t get me wrong, I too love my country, but when you really stop and think about this, there’s nothing particularly special about nations on a natural level. There’s nothing special about countries on a cosmic level. But on a human level, the place we call home (and for many, with no choice in the matter either due to economics or politics), is entirely arbitrary. Most people are born and die in the same country. Of the 7 billion people on this planet, many never venture further than a few miles from their birthplace. So this place called home is not a place of their choosing, yet they would likely defend that place to the death.

I’m not trying to make a profound point or political statement here, as I said, I’m just exercising some introspection.

What are your thoughts? Please let me know in the comments section below.

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