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Despite the drama off the field, sports provide a 'social identity'.opinion

An hour before kickoff, walking the concourse of US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota is no easy task. Philadelphia and New England fans will be crushed like sardines while jockeying for their way to their respective seats.

Not only was this the first non-preseason NFL game I attended, it was also the 2017 Super Bow. I was there as a reporter for his KSL-TV, so with the end of the family’s fantasy football league, my loyalty to teams and players was long gone.

I’m an observer, and here’s what I’ve seen — men and women, young and old, decked out in team colors — Eagles green, Patriots blue. They give the same kind of high-fives as if they were kneeling at a godly family reunion while avoiding opposition.

This is the moment when politics, religion, ethnicity, and economic position in life are pushed aside and replaced by an all-for-one, one-for-all mentality. Despite the fact that some arrived by limousine, others by city bus, no one cares, realizing that hot dogs and drinks are too expensive for everyone.

The true power of sports lies not in the Super Bowl itself, but in the social identity it gives people and communities. States, and, as we witnessed during the Olympics, across the country.

Aside from tragedy, nothing brings communities together more quickly and with enthusiasm than a sports franchise. This is why politicians are willing to spend tax money to build and maintain stadiums.

Utah witnessed this firsthand when the Jazz made it to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998, and when it hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics. No matter which religion you supported, which candidate you voted for, or which college team you supported, on those occasions it was all one-on-one.

Members of the US Olympic team enter the stadium during the opening ceremony of the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Friday, February 8, 2002.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

In recent years, Las Vegas has used sports to reinvent or at least expand its identity beyond gambling.The birth of the NHL’s Golden Knights and the relocation of the NFL’s Raiders have only spearheaded growth. Instead (T-Mobile Arena and Allegiant Stadium), it gave the locals something they could wear their hats on. My 6-year-old granddaughter proudly wears a Golden Knights hat — in Logan, Utah.

Las Vegas will host the sold-out BYU Notre Dame game on October 8, the Super Bowl in 2024, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal says Las Vegas is a finalist to host the Final Four between 2027 and 2031. I am reporting there is. As immense as the return of the 99-cent shrimp cocktail in the gambling mecca.

Still waiting for shrimp.

During his 20 years working for KLAS-TV in Las Vegas, mega-events included boxing and conventions, and marketing focused on nightlife. Few locals, initially a melting pot of tenants, gathered in the back, especially when the Runnin’ Rebels ran out of gas. That vice still has its place, a very strong place, but sports have given Las Vegas vegans even more to offer: something to empathize with.

Of course, like the sport itself, there are always hits and misses.

Three years before the Super Bowl, I was in Sochi, Russia, to cover the 2014 Winter Olympics. The opinion of many, including myself, is that the Olympics should never have happened.

For one thing, the city of Sochi is a resort town with a subtropical climate, and the snow was only visible when it came out of the machine. Second, Russian President Vladimir Putin has spent $50 billion to show the world that he is not only loved by his people, but is also active on the world stage.

Putin appeared one after another, smiling and waving. The pop-up venue was state-of-the-art, and on television, the Olympics were presented as the best time in Russia, especially by his non-NBC outlet broadcasting worldwide.

A surreal moment came for me when I came out of the amazing ice hockey field and saw smoke rising from the nearby hillside houses. Without electricity, the heat of the fireplace was all they had. This Russian Renaissance I was witnessing turned out to be a fake.

Even with abundant funds and national athletes, Putin was still unable to change his Russian identity, and things got even worse when many Olympians tested positive for doping.

As an aside, on my way home to the airport, I saw an endless convoy of military trucks carrying Russian soldiers from Sochi to their next mission. By the time we arrived in New York, rumors of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine had died down.

The fun and games were over and his chance for a new identity turned into an identity crisis and a final international crisis.

I asked a group of Russian college students volunteering at the skeleton/bobsled track if they still recognized America as the place to go. rice field. My goal is to go to America somehow after graduation. ”

Sorry Putin, $50 billion didn’t change her opinion. That’s a pretty big mistake.

Fans flocked to the field after BYU beat Utah at Ravel Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, September 11, 2021.  BYU won him 26-17.

Fans flock to the field after BYU defeated Utah in an NCAA football game at LaBelle Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, September 11, 2021. After finishing in his end of the stick short against Ute for nine years, the Cougars finally snapped their loss. We won back-to-back over Utah in Provo last fall.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

BYU and Utah’s football program are experiencing an identity crisis. Historically, when one team is in high spirits and the other is depressed, as fans, we take it personally because of its social impact.

BYU enjoyed “King of the Hill” status in the WAC, but Utah closed the gap between them in the Mountain West Conference. With his Pac-12 invitation in 2011, Utes strengthened his identity with his P5 status and took his ninth straight win against BYU.

The Cougars fought their way through the skids within the state and remained relevant as independents for 11 years. But his invitation to the Big 12 on Sept. 10, 2021, and his 26-17 victory over Utah the next day, instantly charged up his BYU identity like a firefly sipping a Red Bull. Did.

In recent weeks, the Utes have faced a new crisis with the announcement of USC and UCLA’s move to the Big Ten. What would happen to them if the Pac-12 collapsed?The idea was as unthinkable a month ago as he had it in the back of his mind at the Pac-12 Media Day in Los Angeles last week. It was in

Cougars, Utes and Jazz all face uncertainty at the same time. One team is overhauling its roster, one is preparing to move to a new conference, and another is trying to wrap up his current league.

Luckily, simpler, more fun times are back for fans who are powerless over money and sports politics even at the college level.

In just over a month, they’ve re-worn their respective team jerseys, blue, red, or whatever color the Jazz wear, giving strangers high-fives to complete them, or taking to social media for wit when another season kicks off. You can post rich one-liners. Or turned over.

Fellowship without competition and criticism is what we thrive on, it’s our social identity and why we don’t mind buying expensive hot dogs and drinks.

Dave McCann is a Deseret News contributor, studio host of “After Further Review,” co-host of “Countdown to Kickoff” and “Postgame Show,” and play-by-play announcer for BYUtv.

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Delta Center employees prepare for the NBA Finals on Monday, June 1, 1998.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

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