Monday, March 19, 2007

Atavistic impulses in sports

A commenter on a previous blog about UCLA basketball suggested that perhaps it is time to switch allegiance to UNLV, which has a pretty good team this year and seems poised for a run in the NCAA tournament -- having made it to the Sweet Sixteen, which happened subsequent to the comment.

I've long had a soft spot in my heart for UNLV (especially when Jerry Tarkanian was coaching), but when it comes to sports I rationalize that since sports are essentially atavistic activities, I will be essentially atavistic in my allegiances. Thus I remain insanely addicted to UCLA, even though it is (shudder!) a state institution, because I went there. (I made the decision to attend -- after Stanford unaccountably declined to offer me an immediate scholarship after I notified them I was a National Merit scholar -- before I was persuaded that state institutions are on balance a detriment to civilization even if some have their good points, and I developed an affection for the place).

So in sports my general rule, when UCLA is not involved, as a Southern California native, is to root for the most southerly or westerly team -- and as I explained to a friend who is a USC alum, when USC was playing Washington, southerly trumps westerly, probably for no good reason. Thus I'm pleased that USC and Oregon have moved to the round of 16, and I'm pleased to see UNLV in there too.

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