Thursday, July 10, 2014

"A House Divided"

I am proud of the fact that I am an alum of LSU, an SEC university.  My pride for my university is not a unique thing in the south.  People hang flags outside of their homes.  They put various paraphernalia on their cars such as bumper stickers, decals, license plates, and etc.  Many people wear their university colors everywhere.

Naturally, people affiliated with different universities intermarry.  It's quite common, especially in states with at least two major universities, like Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia.  When that happens, most of the time, people don't stop cheering for the team that they are affiliated with, because their spouse is affiliated with a different one.  So naturally during football season, things can be rather tense in those respective households, especially at family gatherings with in-laws.

Many of these families display their pride for their two universities with a license plate on the front of their cars with the words, "House Divided", and the plate will be divided in two with the logo of a respective university on each side.

I wonder sometimes which teams the children of these couples cheer for.  Perhaps I can provide some insight into that, being that I am an American with Korean ethnicity living in Korea, a country that I have come to care about, during the World Cup.

Here in Korea, I am really proud of the fact that I am an American, especially around my non-Korean friends.  I am a fan of sports in general, especially football (American football for all my non-American friends) and basketball.  Being that I am from Louisiana I am very vocal about my fanhood for LSU football, LSU mens basketball, LSU Baseball, the New Orleans Saints, and the New Orleans Pelicans.  And recently here in Korea, I have been quite vocal about the U.S. world cup fanhood.  On my twitter account, I've posted pics of such American icons as Hulk Hogan, George Washington, Rocky Balboa, and Abraham Lincoln to display my fanhood of American soccer.

I am extremely proud to be an American.  One of my students said during the London Olympics, "I don't like America, because they always win in the Olympics."

My immediate automatic almost-instinctive proud response was, "Yeah, we're the best."

I enjoy imagining what I would do, if the American Soccer Team came to Seoul to play Korea in a friendly.  Obviously, if that happened, I would sit in the American section of the stadium with my American friends in my red, white, and blue, and celebrating if we scored a goal, or even won.

At the same time, if that moment were to happen, it would be rather bittersweet, because although I am really proud to be an American, I don't enjoy in the least bit seeing Korea lose, even when it's to my country.

As a passionate sports fan, it's a rather confusing feeling.  There are moments when I will say unequivocally that I would cheer for America, but on the rare occasions where competition between the two nations happens, I find my support secretly shifting to Korea.  There are moments when I am secretly cheering for Korea, but then I would notice an American on the other side that I identify with, and I begin to feel better about cheering for America.  Then Korea would start losing, and I would find myself secretly cheering for them again.  Sometimes my support wanes periodically throughout a competition.

I've experienced this only a few times.  The most recent being a women's volleyball match between the two nations during the 2012 London Olympics, and a women's curling match during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

As my American pride in terms of sports and competition is rather extraverted, my pride in the nation of Korea, as a Korean-American is rather introverted.  Many times, my support for Korea is just as strong or stronger, despite that.  I can't explain exactly why, but I was extremely proud when Korea scored their first goal in their opener in the World Cup against Russia as I was eating my breakfast getting ready for work.  It was a stronger feeling than any that I had that was associated with any good thing that America did in the tournament.

I was moved while watching a reality show that follows some Korean celebrities in Brazil as they cheer for Korea during the World Cup, when one of the female celebrities started to tear (with a long e) up when the Korean team was introduced before a match, and the Korean National Anthem was sung.  I was also moved when they showed a Korean man in the stands crying when Algeria scored their third goal to go up 3-0 early on in their match, and Yoo Jae Seok, tried to rally support in the stands.  I was really proud during those moments.

I don't vocalize my support for Korea during competitions, because I am not a Korean citizen, but my support for them, many times, is every bit as strong as my support for America, sometimes even secretly cheering for them against my home country.  So many times, during international competitions, I really do find myself being a "house divided."

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