In both politics and sports fandom, the fundamental question is: “Whose side are you on?” Exploring who roots for whom affords perspective on the big questions of who is politically loyal to what, and why. ...
A central question in ethnography is whether a polity is organized by ancestry or territory. For a decade, the US military has used bombs and bribes trying to convince Pashtun tribesmen that because they live in Afghanistan, they should be loyal to the Afghan government, which the American government has gone to great expense to buy and build.
The Pashtuns find this American assumption of territorialism naive. Rather than trust a government in Kabul or Islamabad—depending upon which side of the Khyber Pass they happen to be on—they team up (and fall out) with each other along patriarchal bloodlines.
Like modern governments, American professional sports teams, in tandem with local media, strive to demand territorial loyalty. Chicago is the extreme example of geographical rule, with the Cubs dominating the North Side and the White Sox the South Side. (The yuppie newcomer Barack Obama would seem a Cubs fan by class, but his Hyde Park residence made him a White Sox fan.)|
Like tribal societies, however, college rooting patterns have relatively stronger links to family trees.