How Can People Support Teams From So Far Away?

David HodbodCorrespondent ISeptember 23, 2008

From viewing people’s profiles on this website, it struck me just how many people support a team even though they live miles away from the team they say they support, even though they live in a different country, even though they live in another continent. How can they actually do this?

How do you form a link, a proper link, with a team a few thousand miles away? 

I’m from Bury, about 15 miles north of Manchester, and have always said I support Manchester United. People at home immediately say I’m a glory supporter (if they don’t support Utd themselves) because I don’t live in Manchester, so shouldn’t be supporting the best team in the country.

I never used to feel as though I was supporting a distant team myself; Manchester was the nearest place of the teams I watched (except possibly Blackburn but my geography wasn’t that good when I was young).

If there was a case for me not being a local then how on earth do people from America/Australia/South Africa/Asia end up supporting Utd, or whichever team they say they support?

The one thing I can think of is that people chose one team from the most viewable league on offer to them. This would mean the English Premiership for English people, as well as other nationalities I’m guessing, due to it being on TV constantly compared to the lower leagues or other countries own leagues.

This argument is supported by the fact that this past year I barely saw any football whilst I was at uni due to not having Sky TV in my lounge and deciding to watch my more beloved cricket whenever I was in control of the common room remote. After a while of not seeing Utd or much other football, the results I subconsciously looked for first on the internet were those of Bury FC, not the team I "supported".

Did this mean that as I got to a stage of watching these two teams an even amount (i.e. none), I started involuntarily showing my greater love for Bury, my actual local team? Had I actually only supported Utd because they were my favourite team of the teams I saw a lot of? If I saw Utd and Bury an equally large amount, would I get a better bond with Bury than I ever could have done with Utd? 

If that is so, and that’s honestly how it feels, does that mean I never actually supported Utd properly because they weren’t the team I naturally aligned myself with, out of every team, when there were no controlling factors leading me to any one team?

If I never actually supported them from 10 miles away because locality got the better of me and forced me to support a closer team, how is it possible for foreigners to support an English team? Surely they have local teams in closer leagues that should mean much more to them? Surely.

I understand that people can have favourites from other places; I like Valencia in Spain, Caen in France (although in a way that is through locality), Cincinnati Bengals from American football, West Indies in international cricket. I would never say I support these teams though.

I look out for their results and enjoy watching them more than other teams (which is mainly why they are my favourites). I hope they win their games, but I could never get as emotionally involved with a team miles away simply because I don’t think it’s possible to create an actual bond with them—it is merely fondness that is felt for them. 

Therefore, I can’t see how people can say they fully support a team from another country (or another area of their own country) when they seemingly have no link to that club whatsoever?

Somebody please give me a valid answer for this.