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July 1, 1996

Who's Number One?
Copyright 1996 - Greg Bulmash - All Rights Reserved

Sometimes I wonder about the whole sports team association thing. You know... "We're number one!!!" Somehow it seems silly. Who's we? How the heck am I "number one" when I wasn't on the field? It's like if my friend had sex and then I shouted "we got laid!!!"

But it seems all most people need is a decent contest to get worked up that way. CNN was the biggest sports network in the world during the Gulf War, because it wasn't really a war, it was an away game for the U.S. Military.

I can totally imagine Dick Vitale as a Gulf War correspondent. "Sadaam puts up a Scud... there's the patriot missle... Denied!!! Now that's war, baby!!!" Desert Stormers, one. Sadaam's Baddies, nothing. We'll be right back after this word from Budweiser, the king of beers.

I guess it's all about aligning yourself with the right big strong guys. Back in the old days, that was the way you survived. When your big strong guys had a successful hunt, you ate well. When your big strong guys won a battle with someone else's big strong guys, you weren't conquered and enslaved. And it's backed up by the fact that the contests that make us foam at the mouth -- like sports, war, and politics -- are all about power and dominance. Wheaties cereal touts itself as the "breakfast of champions," not the "breakfast of the little guys who keep everything working so our entire society doesn't grind to a halt."

So, even though sports really have no effect on our survival or the quality of our lives, we still enjoy symbolically sharing in the dominance of our big strong guys. And I'll have to admit, I fall victim to the mindset when it suits me. Like when the University of Southern California (USC) beats the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in their annual football game, from which the winner receives local bragging rights for the next year. Well, then I'm happy to say "we're number one!!!" You see, "number 2" has another meaning in U.S. slang, and that's how UCLA fans should feel... all the time.

Fight on.

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