How Sports Fanaticism Requires Social Schizophrenia

Why is violating a sports ritual such a big deal?

Rather than focus on either the nobility, courage, arrogance or ungratefulness of Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand up for the national anthem, I think it is more revealing to consider why it seems so important to sports fans that he stand up for the national anthem. It has been pointed out that when Donald Trump claims he wants’ to “make America great again” the “Trumpettes” cheer wildly. The implication, of course, is that America is not so hot now. But when a sports athlete also says America isn’t so hot, refuses to stand up and place his hand over his heart, it means something very different. Analysts have pointed out that the contrast between Trump and Kaepernick is an example of white privilege. But does this mean that if the football player who did this was white, the reaction of the fans and the sports media would be very different? I don’t think so.

What is the emotional reaction of sports fanatics? My guess is something like the following: shock, surprise, betrayal, anger, anxiety, and hopelessness. In cognitive psychology, we explain the emotions of individuals by the interpretations and explanations people give to them. In the case of being a fan of professional baseball or football, there are collective emotions and collective explanations. My claim will be that collective emotions, their interpretations and explanations are rooted in the propagandistic nature of what sports means to…

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