Work in Sports
Relying on strange logic
By Luba Vangelova, Special to CNNSI.com
One of the best things about the Olympics is that they give fans an opportunity to watch athletes from all over the world. That also means you're frequently watching competitions between two or more countries to which you have no allegiance. The question then becomes: do you remain neutral, cheering equally for all sides, or do you back one country, becoming an honorary Mongolian or some such for the duration of the event?
The middle-aged Chicago lady who watched the Brazil-Sweden beach volleyball match next to me swore by the first option. She insisted it was more relaxing and fun to watch contests in which you had no stake in the outcome. Sure, it's more relaxing. But more fun? Nah. I'd rather ride the highs and risk the lows of favoring one side, even if I only favor it by a tiny margin, and for the most spurious reasons.
That's the problem with choosing a favorite. When your country's not represented, you begin to rely on strange logic. Something as trivial as a bad batch of baba ganoush may suddenly prove the clincher (my friend Anthony joked that he'd pull his support from countries whose cuisine had recently given him indigestion).
I've developed my own admittedly idiosyncratic methodology for choosing where to place my sympathies. As an American, my top allegiance goes to the U.S. But I also cheer for Bulgaria, where my roots lie, and Britain, from where my husband hails. (It can get complicated when these countries play each other, although I then generally lean toward the underdog.)
I suppose I ought to cheer for Australia as well, given that I now live here. I cheered for the Aussies in Atlanta. But at these Games, they have enough supporters. One less fan with a boxing kangaroo temporarily tattooed on their face won't make much difference.
So if my top three countries don't feature in an event, I resort to the following criteria, not necessarily in this order, to pick a favorite team or individual: